Hillary Clinton gambles on gun control
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton apparently has decided that the shooting at an Oregon community college that killed nine people is the last straw, and she’s proposing several measures to combat gun violence.
The proposals — to institute universal background checks and to close the gun show and internet sales loopholes, among others — are actually quite modest. They have been proposed before and are supported by large majorities of Americans. By speaking out now, Clinton no doubt hopes to distance herself further from Republican candidates and from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is catching up to or passing her in some polling.
Sanders represents a state with many rural residents who hunt. According to a story at Think Progress, Sanders “voted against the Brady Bill, legislation signed by President Bill Clinton that instituted federal background checks and a five-day waiting period for gun purchases, and has voted for other pro-gun legislation to appeal to voters in his gun-loving, rural state.” It is one area where he has clashed with his progressive supporters.
At a campaign event in New Hampshire, a visibly emotional Clinton introduced Nicole Hockley. Hockley is the mother of 6-year-old Dylan, one of 20 children shot to death at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, according to a story at CNN.
Clinton campaign staff said the candidate met Hockley in a photo line before the campaign town hall, and Clinton asked Hockley to join her on stage. “I want you to introduce yourself and maybe talk about what you and other parents are trying to do to get the changes that are necessary,” Clinton told her at the event, according to the CNN story.
The other big proposal in Clinton’s gun safety plan is to do away with the protections that gun manufacturers have against liability lawsuits. When she was a senator, Clinton voted against legislation that protects gun makers and dealers from being sued by shooting victims, and she vowed to work for the law’s repeal. Other parts of Clinton’s gun safety plan include barring those with felony records from being able to purchase a gun. Her whole plan is available at her campaign website.
All of these are great ideas, and are supported by up to 90 percent of Americans. Too bad the odds of any of them actually passing are between slim and none.
After the Oregon shooting, the reaction from the National Rifle Association and Republican presidential candidates to any gun safety measures was predictable. Jeb! Bush inserted his foot further in his mouth (if that is possible) by saying, “Stuff happens.” GOP candidates offered the usual “thoughts and prayers” for the families of the victims — and then quickly added that more guns are the answer, even in the classroom. An NRA spokesman gave the usual platitude that President Obama was “politicizing” the issue by even talking about it. Others delivered the standard line that it’s “too soon” to talk about gun safety.
It shouldn’t be this way. When more then 33,000 people die in the U.S. each year from gunshots, it’s no wonder that the rest of the world thinks Americans are crazy for sticking to their firearms no matter what. According to another story at Think Progress: “Between 2000 and 2014, there were 33 mass shootings in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, England, Germany, Finland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa and Switzerland combined. Over the same time period, there were 133 mass shootings in the U.S., killing 487 people.” Other media outlets put the U.S. total even higher.
By issuing a proposal on gun safety so strongly and so publicly, Clinton has ensured that the issue will be raised during the 2016 election campaign. She’s also vowing to use executive action to meet some of the gun safety goals, which will produce even more howls from gun nuts. Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded by a shooter at a constituent event, tweeted support. “Voters deserve to know how candidates will reduce gun violence. Thanks for sharing your plan, @HillaryClinton.”
It can’t be pointed out too often that the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the handgun ban in the District of Columbia pointedly did not give the populace carte blanche on all guns. The decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, clearly said communities had the power to pass some restrictions on guns and still comply with the Second Amendment.
But try telling that to the gun owner who is told over and over again by the NRA and Republican candidates that “Obama’s going to take your guns,” even though the president has never proposed anything near that. Remember: The NRA is made up of gun manufacturers as well as gun owners. And who profits by stoking fears about gun control?
The gun makers, which are only too happy to sell more guns. It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?