Hillary Clinton: U.S. needs to 'rein in' proliferation of guns
May 6th, 2014
12:38 PM ET
9 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."

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"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. rs


    You just lost my vote. I believe in personal accountability, something I now know Hillary knows nothing about. Hold people to there actions not objects. If you want to be a elected as a leader, you should be one first.
    How do you hold someone "personally accountable" when after they kill a slew of people (like 26 first-graders), they off themselves? Wouldn't it have been better to ensure those folks never got guns in the first place?

    May 6, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Lizzie

    Chicago has the strictest gun laws and also the most killings.

    May 6, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Lizzie

    RudyNYC, why was she wearing WHITE gloves in the backwoods, something is fishy with this story.

    May 6, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. rs

    The wonder of those pushing "open carry" laws is that it is now impossible to tell the "good guys" with guns from the "bad ones"...... and people wonder why law enforcement now has to show up to everything so well armed.

    May 6, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. Tiffins

    That's a nice pearl necklace Hillary is wearing... Did Bill give her that?

    May 6, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. CryBabies

    Tell them what they want to hear, Hillary....its about the votes.

    May 6, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. rs

    William D

    It's not so much the issue of keeping guns out of the wrong hands I have issues with it's the fact so many people on her side of the aisle have avocated much worse to our rights then she has. You have to understand a lot of us are not trusting til see it.
    Meanwhile the reality is that no one has actually limited YOUR gun rights, and in fact under this administration gun rights have expanded. When will people realize the problem here isn't the administration, but ALEC and the NRA pushing wackadoodle gun laws to boost sales of guns, and not responsible gun ownership. Guns are not grapefruit, and they shouldn't be marketed as such.

    May 6, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. Tony D

    Democrats and leftists won't be happy until all guns are taken away from citizens. They know better than you what you need to protect you and your family. Just like they knew what was better for you and your family with regards to healthcare plans. Just like they know better than you what you should be eating, and drinking, and smoking, and driving. Wake up America... Wake up before these very dangerous people take away every decision you make in our life, because they know better.

    May 6, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. smith

    @Tone-Explain how the NRA is a racist group ro are you just calling them racist because you and other liberals don`t like the NRA? Any facts or evidence to back up your claim?

    May 6, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Chris-E...al

    @Tone i bet within 30min we could find enough N.R.A. members that would be willing to go atleast try to free those poor girls in Nigeria . Why dont you go ?

    May 6, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. truth hurts but reality bites

    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."

    No Hillary, it doesn't work that way. You think the American people are total idiots don't you? allow me to rephrase your statement so everybody will understand what you said:

    Hillary Clinton: "If you like your guns, you can keep your guns, PERIOD."

    Yes, we've been down this trail before with the Democrats haven't we people?

    May 6, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    So basically the cowards that are afraid of their own shadows rights top my rights to not be caught in a gunfight at the OK Corral???

    I'm an American and I don't want to be surrounded by guns. Do I have no rights?? They are trying to get the same law here in MI that they have in GA and there was a protest a few weeks ago. I couldn't believe the size of most of the guns. Then I looked at the protesters and realized why they needed those huge rocket launchers. Overcompensating for something. No wonder they're all jealous of President Obama.

    May 6, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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