Hillary Clinton: U.S. needs to 'rein in' proliferation of guns
May 6th, 2014
12:38 PM ET
6 years ago

Hillary Clinton: U.S. needs to 'rein in' proliferation of guns

Updated 2:06 p.m. ET, 5/6/2014

National Harbor, Maryland (CNN) – Hillary Clinton told an audience of mental health professionals on Tuesday that the United States needs to rein in its gun culture or risk a world where insignificant disagreements could lead to shootings.

Asked about the mental health aspects of guns, Clinton said "I think we've got to rein in what has become a almost article faith that anybody can have a gun, anywhere, anytime. I don't believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people."

"We really have got to get our arms around it because at the rate we are going, we are going to have so many people with guns everywhere fully licensed, fully validated," Clinton said, painting a picture of a country where small annoyances could lead to shootings.

Clinton, whose comments came during the question and answer portion at the end of her appearance, said because "we are living at a time when there is so much external stimulation and some much internal confusion in certain people," it would be a bad idea to let people "go to bars with guns, let them go to schools with guns, let them go to church with guns."

Referencing a shooting earlier this year where a 71-year old retired police officer shot a 43-year old man texting in a movie theater, Clinton said people thinking they "have the right to defend themselves against the gum chewer and the cell phone user by shooting the person" is reminiscent of countries she visited "with no rule of law and self control."

But Clinton also gave an olive branch to gun owners, adding "I think you can say that and still support the right of people to own guns."

In the past, Clinton has tried to maintain a balance between respecting gun owners and tightening gun laws. While running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, Clinton told a Pennsylvania debate audience that she respected "the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns, but I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands."

Gun control was a major political issue after the December 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, where twenty young children and six adults were killed at the school by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who had earlier killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their Newtown, Connecticut home.

In the weeks and months after the shooting, Democrats – led by President Barack Obama – looked to spearhead efforts to strengthen gun laws and expand background checks of firearm sales. Despite public support for the background check provision, a compromise plan failed to pass the Democratic controlled Senate in April of last year, and efforts since then have been minimal.

While President Barack Obama lashed out when the Senate effort faltered, calling the defeat a "pretty shameful day for Washington," a number of gun rights groups heralded the defeat as a success and said the background check provision was "misguided" and would not reduce violent crime "or keep our kids safe in their schools."

Clinton's new remarks came at the National Council for Behavioral Health's annual conference just outside Washington, D.C. The organization, which serves as a membership organization for mental health and substance abuse providers around the country, estimated that over 4,000 people were in attendance for Clinton's remarks.

The conference has drawn a number of high profile speakers, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, New York Mayor Bill deBlasio and Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

Clinton more bullish on Obamacare

Most of Clinton's speech focused on the American's access to mental health services and the Affordable Care Act.

Clinton, who earlier this year endorsed changes to Obamacare, the controversial and sweeping healthcare measure signed into law by the President in 2010, appeared more bullish about the law on Tuesday.

The former first lady touted the mental health provisions in the law, as well provisions that prevent insurance companies from being able to deny coverage to people for preexisting conditions.

"Yes, there are things we can fix," Clinton said. "But just the preexisting condition elimination in and of itself is a huge gift to so many."

She continued, "The system was backwards before, we are straightening it out. It should help lead to lower costs and better outcomes for millions of Americans."

Clinton also knocked Republican lawmakers who have vigorously opposed the law, despite, she said, of all the benefits it could provide their constituents.

"I don't know why those elected officials are letting politics drive what is a good deal for their states," Clinton said. This is a smart investment. … I see it as a strictly political partisan decision. I regret that, because I think we can do better."

Clinton slightly slips in new CNN/ORC 2016 poll

Clinton, who is widely considered the front runner for the Democratic president nomination in 2016, was also asked about her future aspirations. The former secretary of state reiterated that she is thinking about running for office – something she said last month – but went on to say that she has to decide whether she is ready to ask people to vote for her.

"Stay tuned," Clinton said. "When I know, you'll know."

The audience of mental health professionals were very receptive to Clinton and many of her comments garnered loud rounds of applause. There were a number of light moments, too. Clinton was asked what her guilty pleasure was, to which the former first lady paused and joked, "I’m just trying to think of some G-Rated ones.” She eventually answered "chocolate."

Clinton, who is set to become a grandmother this fall when her daughter Chelsea delivers her first child, was also jokingly asked about what role Congress should have in naming the child.

"Given what’s going on, the poor child would never get a name," she said, joking about gridlock in Washington.

The death of a friend

Given the topic of the conference – mental health – Clinton was asked about the 1993 suicide of Vince Foster, a close Clinton confidant and White House counsel at the time.

While Foster – who killed himself on July 20, 1993 at a park in Northern Virginia – was never mentioned by name, Clinton did speak about what she learned from the death of her close friend.

"I think particularly in the case you are talking about, I think there was a reluctance to seek help," Clinton said of Foster. "We knew after the fact that he was depressed, he was really filled with all kinds of doubts and anxieties and suicidal thoughts and had not talked to anybody, not sought out a professional."

She contented, "I think that even then, twenty plus years ago, there was still a stigma, there was still a sense among high functioning people, because the people I knew that killed themselves were all really high functioning and very successful. I think that the fact for them is they did not want to be seen as weak, they didn't want to admit their problems."


Filed under: 2016 • Gun control • Health care • Healthcare • Hillary Clinton • Obamacare
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. just asking

    the problem is mentally ill people. what is hillary clinton's solution to reeling in all of the mentally ill people? why does she want to punish me or take away my rights because of the act of mentally ill people?

    May 6, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. Steve`

    Hillary Clinton is absolutely correct about the gun issue in every respect except one. We ALREADY have a gun culture in which "insignificant disagreements...lead to shootings." In Pasco County, Florida, a few months ago, some elderly guy who was in a movie theater with a gun shot an unarmed man because the latter was (a) texting during a movie and/or (b) throwing popcorn at the elderly guy. Why the old dude was in a movie theater armed with a hand gun is beyond me.

    May 6, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. sonny chapman

    The Second Amendment is ABSOLUTE. There can be NO Infringement. Our(Well Trained) Militias need RPGs, .50 Cal. Machine Guns, ANYTHING that an Infantryman(W/End Warrior) needs to fight the Enemies of Freedom. The Other Amendments that Non-Gun Owners say confers upon them the Right to Live W/Out Fear of too many kooks w/too many guns are TRUMPED by Good Ole # 2.

    May 6, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "why does she want to punish me or take away my rights because of the act of mentally ill people?"

    Why do you keep referring to mentally ill people as though you're not one of them?

    May 6, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Why the old dude was in a movie theater armed with a hand gun is beyond me."

    Because Benghazi.

    May 6, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. smith

    H. Clinton won`t do anything about current gun laws. B. clinton`s AWB was a complete failure and Gore`s stance on guns cost him alot of votes. If she runs, she won`t take the risk.

    May 6, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. ChrisM

    Correct Hillary and the Smart Gun would solve alot of the gun problems we have today. Not all the gun problems but alot of them. But the gun nuts and the NRA are against the smart gun. !!

    May 6, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Abbey

    We should first rein in the methane coming from this individual.

    May 6, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Greg

    @just asking – read the article and Hillary's comments several times and did not see where she was saying you should be punished or your rights taken away.

    May 6, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    just asking wrote:

    the problem is mentally ill people. what is hillary clinton's solution to reeling in all of the mentally ill people? why does she want to punish me or take away my rights because of the act of mentally ill people?
    ----------------------------------------
    She's also talking about the makeshift militia of armed and dangerous "patriots" that have set up "security" around that Bundy ranch in Nevada. They were setting up check points, stopping people in the cars demanding to see identification and information about the destinations. They number well over one hundred and are growing by the day. The local towns people are terrified of them, as they patrol their streets with high-caliber, high-capacity, semi-automatic rifles. They seem to be looking for a fight.

    Are you saying that those militia men are mentally ill, too? If so, then I agree.

    May 6, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. S. B. Stein

    When people purchace, legally, any firearm, there must be training that goes along with that. It must be clear that everyone who wants a gun must know the consequences of it. That is injury or death for another person.

    We also need Congress to make the conviction standard for weapons charges lower so we can actually get some convictions with the current rules that we have.

    May 6, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    USA needs gun-ban. Period. NRA is such an idiotic to buy politicians.

    May 6, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. it must be said

    Steve`
    Hillary Clinton is absolutely correct about the gun issue in every respect except one. We ALREADY have a gun culture in which "insignificant disagreements...lead to shootings." In Pasco County, Florida, a few months ago, some elderly guy who was in a movie theater with a gun shot an unarmed man because the latter was (a) texting during a movie and/or (b) throwing popcorn at the elderly guy. Why the old dude was in a movie theater armed with a hand gun is beyond me.
    -–

    Maybe he was afraid of somebody coming into the theater using the exit and killing people? BTW, throwing something at somebody and making threats is never advisable. Had he not done that, he would be alive. Maybe the oldguy thought his next move was to assault him (again)?

    May 6, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. ireuel

    See I told you. Exactly how many minutes after the Monica comes back out. It is now the renamed CNN Clinton News Network. Bet this one does not make the cut either.

    May 6, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. ireuel

    Please don't pick this person to be the DNC Nominee Please. Heck vote for yourself, it will make you feel better.

    May 6, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. 2_indy1600

    Where has this woman been?

    May 6, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. Dems in PA

    The special committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attack must really be scaring the Democratic Party.

    Look at the last 12 hours; the distractions the Democratic Party is throwing out there; now gun control; Monica Lewinsky and climate change! What next; a giant meteor coming our way.

    May 6, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    just asking
    the problem is mentally ill people. what is hillary clinton's solution to reeling in all of the mentally ill people? why does she want to punish me or take away my rights because of the act of mentally ill people?
    -------------------------------------–
    Those "militia" guys out in Nevada aren't mentally ill however they have high powered assault rifles ready to take on the federal government for upholding the law.

    May 6, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. it must be said

    Are Hillary Clinton's body guards unarmed? Didn't think so. Let her lead by example. Let her be protected by people carrying knives and mace. Walk the walk Hillary before taking away my right of self defense and the ability to protect my family.

    May 6, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Al-NY,NY

    just asking
    the problem is mentally ill people. what is hillary clinton's solution to reeling in all of the mentally ill people? why does she want to punish me or take away my rights because of the act of mentally ill people?
    ---------

    why right do mentally ill have to own a gun when all they have to do is to go to Billy-Joe-Bob's store, pay $ and get a gun. the complete lack of background checks (due to the NRA's propaganda) allows ill people and others who have no right to have one, get a weapon. And of course the tight righty "the angry black man in the WH who hates whites is gonna take your guns" angle has worked wonderfully to scare the stupid into amassing large caches of weapons.

    May 6, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. cured hog

    JA, how about you read the entire article, I would say, before you make a fool of yourself, but that's not possible. Mindless sheep.

    May 6, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. BC

    Hiltard needs to shut up and sit down. Nobody cares what she thinks. One word for you liberals...Bengazi.

    May 6, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. BC

    Got Bengazi?

    May 6, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    @Steve`
    Hillary Clinton is absolutely correct about the gun issue in every respect except one. We ALREADY have a gun culture in which "insignificant disagreements...lead to shootings." In Pasco County, Florida, a few months ago, some elderly guy who was in a movie theater with a gun shot an unarmed man because the latter was (a) texting during a movie and/or (b) throwing popcorn at the elderly guy. Why the old dude was in a movie theater armed with a hand gun is beyond me.
    ----------
    Yes but by the NRA's mythology, this was a "good guy with a gun" protecting us all (from text and popcorn).
    There are no "good guys with guns". There are mostly accidents and hot headed rage incidents.
    And one or two thwarted crimes – yes they happen. But in a minority of cases.

    May 6, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. cured hog

    Blah, blah benghazi, blah blah IRS, yada yada something.

    May 6, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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