Julián Castro Unveils Plan to Combat White Supremacy

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro has unveiled a new plan called the “People First Plan to Disarm Hate” to combat white supremacy and gun violence. The plan was released on August 9, days after 31 people were killed and dozens were injured in two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

The former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary cited the domestic terror attack in El Paso when releasing his new policy proposal. “This horrific tragedy is not an isolated incident. White nationalism is on the rise while military-grade firearms are more easily available than ever,” Castro wrote.

He continued: “The gun violence epidemic is devastating families and communities in big cities and small towns, and an entire generation is growing up afraid for their safety no matter where they live.”

The issues of white supremacy and gun violence are personal to him and his family, Castro said. “My wife Erica, an educator, and I are raising a daughter and son who both have brown skin,” he wrote. “We worry for them and their friends. They should be able to grow up free from fear of hate and safe from gun violence.”

Castro’s plan would not only push for stricter gun control laws and provide funding for battling domestic terrorism, but would also invest in cross-cultural exchanges so people could have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of different communities, he told CBS News.

“I think that we can catch it sooner, before it actually turns into violence,” he said. “I think, when we’re talking about changing the hearts and the minds of people that are headed down the road of white nationalism, that means that we have to be better about ensuring that people are exposed to different ideas and different types of people in our country.”

As part of his plan, Castro would push for “a progressive police reform platform that addresses racial disparities in policing, modernize fusion centers to focus on engagement over surveillance, and reform policing to build trust between communities and law enforcement.”

The plan also calls for investments in programs that fight hate and domestic terrorism as well as the establishment of a White House Initiative on Disarming Hate. This initiative would dedicate at least $100 million each year to coordinate a multi-agency approach to combating extremism while balancing civil liberties, positive outreach, transparency, and privacy.

According to his proposal, Castro would commit the United States to the Christchurch Call, an international agreement aimed at fighting the spread of violent extremism. The Christchurch Call to Action Summit was launched by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the Christchurch mosque shootings in March.

Castro said he would eliminate the firearm dealer licensing loophole as part of a series of executive orders on his first day in office. The executive orders would update how sellers qualify as gun dealers, a classification that would force them to obtain a license and conduct background checks for all sales. Castro would also sign an order authorizing the FBI to reject gun sales to anyone with a pending arrest warrant.

He would push Congress to close the “boyfriend” loophole, thus blocking people from purchasing or owning firearms if they are under a protective order while in a romantic relationship or if they were convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Castro also would prioritize the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to inform victims of domestic violence when a person subject to a domestic violence court order attempts to buy a weapon.

The only Latino presidential candidate called for a permanent ban on assault weapons, the implementation of universal background checks, and place restrictions on ammunition, NBC News reported.

Gun manufacturers would also be held accountable under a Castro administration by repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The 2005 law gives gun manufacturers civil immunity from the consequences of the firearms they produce.

According to a 2018 report by the Pew Research Center, Americans across the political spectrum support a number of gun policy proposals, including making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks (91 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans). However, there is a wide difference in the support for an assault weapons ban, with 81 percent of Democrats supporting the ban and only 50 percent of Republicans.

Despite differences, the report found that, overall, a majority of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws. In 2018, 57 percent supported stricter gun laws, up from 52 percent from the previous year. Thirty-one percent said gun laws were just right at the moment and 11 percent said the laws should be less strict.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.