Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced her aggressive plan to tackle gun violence on Monday, saying she would enact universal background checks and close the gun show and internet sales loophole that currently allow criminals to purchase firearms.
In the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Oregon — the 294th so far this year — Clinton said on the Today Show that she would take administrative actions if Congress fails to pass legislation. After the Sandy Hook massacre in 2013, gun control groups and families of the victims pushed aggressively for Congress to expand background checks, but the legislation ultimately failed in the Senate.
“I’m determined to do something about it and I’ll try in every way I can to get those guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” she said in a New Hampshire town hall televised the Today Show.
According to her campaign’s policy briefing, Clinton “knows that gun ownership is part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities,” including many in New Hampshire where she presented her plan. But her proposals focus on violent criminals, the mentally ill and domestic abusers and what can be done to prevent the roughly 30,000 gun deaths the United States sees every year.
Under her plan, Clinton will advocate for comprehensive federal background check legislation, but if that fails, she has vowed to take administrative action to tighten the gun show and internet sales loophole. Her plan also calls for repealing a law which prevents victims of gun violence from suing gun manufacturers and pushing for legislation to prevent domestic abusers from buying guns.
Clinton’s proposals put her in stark contrast to her Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is currently leading in some New Hampshire polls but who has faced scrutiny for his past support of a number of pro-gun positions. 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.
Sanders told ThinkProgress in New Hampshire that his background would help him reach across the aisle to break the current gridlock in Washington, D.C.
“Coming from a state where guns are mostly used for hunting, I’m someone who can bring people together for commonsense gun control legislation,” he said. “You know, there are some who want no gun control at all, and some who want to take away every gun in America. We can scream and yell at each other, but I don’t think that’s going to solve the problem.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is also challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, pressed his rivals on Sunday to support a series of gun control measures that he has endorsed. O’Malley has called for reinstating the expired federal ban on assault weapons, a measure that Clinton’s plan does not address.
Clinton’s plan will likely be met from strong opposition by the National Rifle Association (NRA). At the group’s annual meeting in April, Republican presidential candidates and NRA leaders led attacks on Clinton and vowed to elect a Republican candidate who will fight for Americans’ Second Amendment rights. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre warned of the “permanent darkness of deceit and despair” that will come if Clinton is elected.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump recently released his plan to uphold the Second Amendment — a plan that is indistinguishable from the NRA’s agenda.
Clinton has spoken out about the NRA and vowed to fight back against the group in the past. In a CNN town hall last year, she said: “We cannot let a minority of people, and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.”
Watch Clinton discuss her proposal on the Today Show: