Clinton tries to set herself apart on gun control

‘How much longer can we just shrug?’ the Democratic contender asks the audience at a New Hampshire campaign stop

Hillary Clinton in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she called for universal background checks.  Photograph: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/The New York Times

Hillary Clinton in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she called for universal background checks. Photograph: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/The New York Times

 

Hillary Clinton seized on the recent spasm of gun violence today, detailing a gun control plan that sets herself apart from Republicans and differentiates her from Sen Bernie Sanders, her insurgent rival for the Democratic nomination.

At a town hall gathering in New Hampshire, Clinton called for an expansion of background checks for those who seek to buy firearms. Proposing a mix of legislative and executive action, the former secretary of state is seeking regulations that would tighten loopholes for online sales and gun-show sales, block sales to domestic abusers and the mentally ill, and hold gun dealers accountable for where they land.

“How much longer can we just shrug?” Clinton asked. Clinton’s proposals come less than a week after a shooting at a community college in Oregon, which killed nine people, reignited the debate about gun control and Second Amendment protections. Republicans running for president have remained steadfast in their beliefs that gun violence is a mental health issue and that law-abiding Americans have a right to protect themselves.

For Clinton, the issue is an opportunity to present herself as the most proactive Democratic candidate on gun control. Most of the shootings in the country “don’t make the headlines”, Clinton said. “Homicides, accidents and suicides, and there are more than 33,000 a year. If anything else were killing 33,000 of our people, we would all come together and say, ‘Hey, what are we going to do about this?’”

Clinton called for universal background checks and tightening other laws. Gun control is a more difficult issue for Sanders, who has been gaining on Clinton in national polls and leading her in some surveys in New Hampshire and Iowa. The independent from Vermont has a mixed record on the issue, having voted against the Brady Bill in the 1990s and opposing legislation that would have allowed lawsuits against gun companies.

While Clinton said today that she had no problem with the Second Amendment, she said restraints on gun purchases and ownership were needed to reduce crime. “If you actually ask not only Americans but gun owners, the majority of both say, hey, background checks make a lot of sense,” Clinton said. “Let’s do everything we can to make sure the irresponsible and ill don’t get guns.” – (The New York Times News Service)