Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has shown unprecedented courage in taking on the gun lobby – a position no other presidential candidate has taken on.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a national figure and advocate for gun control measures who was shot in 2011 following heightened political rhetoric against the Affordable Care Act, has been stumping for Clinton in Pennsylvania and mailers with Giffords endorsing Clinton have been sent out in Connecticut.
The Hill reported:
Hillary Clinton is accentuating her support for gun control in the run-up to Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Connecticut, the site of one of the worst school shootings in American history.
The former secretary of State met last week in Hartford, Conn., with the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and has launched ads in the state featuring victims of gun violence.
“I am here to tell you I will use every single minute of every day, if I’m fortunate to be your president, looking for ways to save lives so we can change the gun culture,” Clinton said to victims of the Newtown massacre in Hartford on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
Clinton’s hard push for gun control measures has mostly been discussed as a contrast in a Democratic primary against Senator Bernie Sanders, but Hillary Clinton’s stance against the gun industry is defining her campaign in a way that signals she will continue this fight through the general if she’s nominated.
Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University, told the CTPost that this is the only position on which Clinton is to the left of Sanders but it will play better in Connecticut than in most places, “It’s probably the only position where she appears to be further to the left than Sanders. It’s going to play better in Connecticut than it will most places in the country. The Sandy Hook shooting is still a major turning point in politics in Connecticut in favor of gun control.”
Actually, Clinton was one of the most liberal Senators during her time in that chamber (538 used three metrics to determine this and yep, she’s actually always been a liberal) and some might say further left on issues of women and girl’s rights for her entire career. Additionally, while certainly the tragedy of Sandy Hook means gun control issues are a big deal in Connecticut, Clinton is running on stricter gun controls in the strong hunting state of Pennsylvania as well. She did it in Ohio, as well.
Perhaps surprisingly, a majority of the nation has been on the “left” side of the gun control issue.
In January, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll showed that a supermajority of likely 2016 voters supported President Obama’s proposed executive actions on gun control.
That could have been a one-off, but it looks more like a trend, with varying numbers. In 2014 a Quinnipiac University National Poll showed that 92 percent of voters, including gun owners and Republicans, supported background checks prior to all gun sales.
These polls indicate that a savvy politician who could withstand the relentless NRA lobby hits would consider making this a big deal.
Gun control is an issue Clinton brings up repeatedly in debates and on the trail. In January of 2016, she said, “More than 33,000 Americans are killed by guns each year. It’s time to act. As President, I’ll take on the gun lobby and fight for commonsense reforms to keep guns away from terrorists, domestic abusers, and other violent criminals—including comprehensive background checks and closing loopholes that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands.”
Clinton is uniquely positioned to take on the gun lobby, as she is already a known political power who can’t be silenced by the bad press bought and paid for by the NRA lobby. The Koch brothers have been spending dark money to damage the Clinton brand for years, and while it’s taken a toll, she’s still here.
The American public desperately wants reasonable gun control measures, but the Congress of NRA puppets and those without the power to fight the negative dark money ads thrown at them by the NRA have refused action. On December 3, 2015, Senate Republicans voted to block a measure that would have prevented individuals on the terror watch list from legally buying guns in the United States.
That’s where we are right now. Meanwhile many Americans support background checks and closing gun loopholes that allow terrorists to legally buy a gun here. There is only one presidential candidate who has been willing to take on the NRA gun lobby, and that is Hillary Clinton.
Critics might suggest she’s doing this to stake out a position to the left of Sanders, but that discounts the entire history of Clinton’s actual work protecting and supporting children and vulnerable people. No matter the attempts to impugn the motive, no one can dispute the political courage it takes to run against the gun lobby.
If it comes down to Hillary Clinton v the Gun Lobby, I’d bet on Clinton.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.