America loves her guns. The right to own them is enshrined in our freakin’ founding document under the Second Amendment (i.e., the right to keep and bear arms). We also love to fight about our guns. Liberals want to take them away. Conservatives want the right to bear arms whenever and wherever. So there’s a lot of misunderstanding around Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s positions on guns and gun control.
No, Clinton does not want to take your guns. In fact, she doesn’t even use the words “gun control” on her campaign site. Instead, she talks about “Gun Violence Prevention.” This is really what we mean when we talk about gun control, so good for her for getting to the meat of the matter. She doesn’t believe that people on the FBI Terrorist Watch List should be able to buy a gun: “If you are too dangerous to get on a plane,” she said after the Orlando nightclub shooting, “you’re too dangerous to buy a gun in America.”
Clinton wants to expand background checks, closing the internet and the so-called Charleston loophole. As president, she will take on the gun lobby by removing the industry’s sweeping legal protection for illegal and irresponsible actions (which makes it almost impossible for people to hold them accountable), and by revoking licenses from dealers who break the law. Moreover, she would keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill (which will also help lower the suicide rate).
“We are smart enough — compassionate enough,” she says, “to figure out how to balance legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventative measures.” Moreover, she called on NRA members to “form a different organization and take back the Second Amendment from extremists.” All she wants, she says, is “to make sure the irresponsible and the criminal and the mentally ill don’t get guns.” Clinton is running for president, she claims, “to protect our families and communities from the plague of gun violence.”
Trump, on the other hand, titles his section on guns “Second Amendment Rights.” His website says that “the Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.” He says it’s about self-defense, calls it “America’s first freedom”, and says it protects all our other rights.
Clearly, Donald Trump likes guns.
He wants to enforce the laws on the books, which he claims work. He also thinks we should fix our broken mental health system (no quibble with that one), and defend the rights of current gun owners — no more gun or magazine bans, including the AR-15 style weapons used in the Pulse and Aurora massacres — and enforce the background check laws in place. He blames the states for not submitting criminal and mental health organization to the national database.
Moreover, Trump thinks that more guns will help lower crime. He’s fond of speculating what would happen if someone were firing back at a mass shooter. He’s publicly wondered what would have happened if more of the victims of the Pulse massacre had guns: “if the bullets were going in the opposite direction, right between the eyes of the maniac.” The massacre in Paris, he says, “would have played out differently if bullets were flying in the other direction.” Armed teachers, he says, could have stopped the Oregon massacre.
Trump’s crime fighting strategy seems to boil down to this: Empower “law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves.” He claims that “if you had more guns, you’d have more protection because the right people would have the guns.” Nevermind that people with guns kill more people; Stand Your Ground laws produce a 7 to 10% increase in homicides; owning a gun is linked to a higher risk of homicide, suicide, or accidental death; and the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun. His odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.
Trump enjoys the endorsement of the NRA.