Hillary Clinton is the great white hope for the gun-control movement. What president Obama failed to do in terms of rolling back the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, many hope that Hillary will be able to achieve should she be elected in 2016.
Specifically, anti-gunners are hoping that Clinton will aggressively push for a federal ban on AR-15s and other commonly owned and widely popular rifles, a federal ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and universal background checks that would cover private transfers and sales.
While banning black rifles and 10-plus round magazines is high on the agenda, arguably, the most pressing goal is universal background checks. The reason it is priority number one is because polls have shown widespread public support for UBCs, including a 2013 Quinnipiac University poll that showed 90 percent of Americans favoring background checks for every gun sale.
“As Hillary runs for president, she has a tremendous opportunity to educate the American public about how effective background checks are and the need to finish the job,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told the Hill.com.
“Background checks are more popular in the United States than baseball and kittens,” added Gross.
There’s little doubt that Hillary will promote background checks on the campaign trail. However, when she is touring in the Midwest, the Rockies, the deep South and in other places where gun culture is greatly valued, I wonder if she’ll be as expressive in her support of those other legislative objectives?
In January 2008, while running against Obama — who played it rather coy on his anti-gun beliefs — Clinton did make it clear that she wanted to reinstate her husband’s former ban on “assault weapons.”
“I would also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban,” Clinton said at a Democratic primary debate. “We now have, once again, police deaths going up around the country, and in large measure, because bad guys now have assault weapons again.”
More recently, in 2014, Clinton touted the merits of a ban on black rifles, though in this statement she confused the semiautomatic rifles that are in common use with very rare and costly automatic weapons that are heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act.
“I don’t think any parent — any person — should have to fear about their child going to school or going to college because someone, for whatever reason — psychological, emotional, political, whatever it means — could possibly enter that school property with an automatic weapon and murder innocent children, students, teachers,” she said at the CNN town hall.
But then again, there were times were she tried to persuade the electorate that she was an avid hunter and sportsperson.
“I’ve hunted. My father taught me how to hunt. I went duck hunting in Arkansas. I remember standing in that cold water, so cold, at first light. I was with a bunch of my friends, all men. The sun’s up, the ducks are flying and they are playing a trick on me. They said, ‘we’re not going to shoot, you shoot.’ They wanted to embarrass me. The pressure was on. So I shot, and I shot a banded duck and they were surprised as I was,” Clinton said while on the campaign trail in 2008 in Wausau, Wisconsin.
It’ll be interesting to see how Clinton handles gun ownership this time around. Her handlers and policy wonks must be aware of the fact that, as Pew Research showed in 2014, more Americans think it is important to protect the Second Amendment than believe it is important to control gun ownership. Certainly, this information — along with the tried and true phenomenon that gun owners show up to the polls — must give them pause to consider how vocal they want to be with their anti-gun agenda during the campaign. Too much kowtowing to anti-gunners and too much heavy handed gun-control rhetoric could cost Clinton her shot at taking back the White House. She must know that. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.