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Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton questioned during a weekend interview whether the Constitution grants Americans the right to bear arms, and she also refused to back off her previous support for a 25 percent gun tax.
The comments were made during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who asked her twice about her views on an individual’s right to own a gun.
“Do you believe that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right, that it’s not linked to service in a militia?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I think that for most of our history,” she responded,” there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment until the decision by the late Justice Scalia, and there was no argument until then that localities and states and the federal government had a right, as we do with every amendment, to impose reasonable regulation.”
Antonin Scalia, who wrote the Heller decision affirming an individual’s right to own guns, died on Feb. 13.
After Clinton detailed her support for “common sense” gun control, Stephanopoulos asked again, “Do you believe that [the Supreme Court’s] conclusion that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right?”
“If it is a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right, is subject to reasonable regulation,” Clinton responded. “And what people have done with that decision is to take it as far as they possibly can and reject what has been our history from the very beginning of the republic, where some of the earliest laws that were passed were about firearms.”
Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court potentially would be filled by Clinton if she wins in November, although President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the spot. Republican leaders in the Senate have said they will not hold hearings on Garland’s nomination.
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Stephanopoulos then played for her a clip of her from 1993, when she was asked if she supported a 25 percent sales tax on gun sales.
“I’m all for that,” Clinton said in 1993. “I just don’t know what else we’re going to do to try to figure out how to get some handle on this violence. … I’m speaking personally, but I feel very strongly about that.”
Stephanopoulos asked her, “Do you still believe that?”
“What I was saying back then,” Clinton said, “was that we have a lot of public health costs that taxpayers end up paying for through Medicaid, Medicare, through uncompensated care, because that was in the context of the push for health care reform and that we needed some way to try to defray those costs. And I’m not going to commit to any specific proposal. I was speaking personally then.”
Clinton told Stephanopoulos that there needs to be a way to compensate the “physical and the emotional trauma” for the families of shooting victims.
“You know, is it workman’s comp support, which is one of the arguments? Is it private insurance? Is it because they work for the county, something the county should pay for? There are real costs that people incur because of the terrible gun violence epidemic. And we have to deal with it,” she said.
In the current polling average by RealClearPolitics.com, Clinton leads Donald Trump, 44 percent to 42 percent.
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