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. Lolo

    Leave it to the right. They think that it is just a mentally ill issue. Sane people with hot tempers do not need to have access to guns. Look at how they killing inoocent people at the drop of a hat. You do remeber Trayvon Martin, the children that were killed in Conneticut, the killings in the theatre at a batman premiere. They are just ignorant.

    May 6, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Concerned Educator, Mississippi

    Don't start that take away my guns crap. She is absolutely right! I am a gun owner and sportsmen, so is my family. However, I agree, we are creating a culture that says you can have a gun anywhere at anytime. It is true. Why do we need guns at church, school, and shopping malls? This is not the old West. Furthermore, I think the NRA is nothing but a group of terrorists, who think they are doing this country a service by advocating that we have guns everywhere and by supporting laws such as stand your ground and I'm a Republican.

    May 6, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Me

    If there are millions of guns out there most by law abiding Americans why are there not millions of gun deaths. Drunk drivers kill more than guns.

    May 6, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Puma Pete

    I'll take a hole lotta lumps.

    May 6, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Wes

    How about you reign in the mental health problem...

    May 6, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. john smith


    May 6, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Matt

    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.

    May 6, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Michelle

    I look at it this way: When ALL of our 'great' lawmakers – relieorats, demonrats, and the Prezorat do the following:
    (1) Give up THEIR guns
    (2) Sign a legally binding contract stating that if a person rapes a woman, hits a woman, hits/hurts a child, man, woman, or gets killed in any way because their right to own a gun was taken away, the WH, & ALL Senators/Congresspeople are responsible to pay the injured person/or family members in the event of death, monetary damages of at least 10 million.
    (3) Ensures that if a family member dies because of an officer shooting that person, or a thug shooting that person, then they're(the WH, Senators, Congresspeople & the Prez)the ones that need to go to jail along with the thug shooting them.
    Until they can do all that – HELL NO!!! EVERYONE deserves to have a gun, regardless of their race, creed, religion, etc. Even if they're an ex-offender – they've got the RIGHT to defend themselves too against someone abusing them.

    May 6, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @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?"

    Hillary also said "I think you can say that [people shooting others because their texting in a movie theater being reminiscient of living in a country without the rule of law] and still support the right of people to own guns."

    What is with all you righties that you can't grasp subtlety and thoughtfulness? She's not saying she'll take away people's guns; she wants to add safeguards to keep them out of the hands of loonies.

    She also said (in 2008) 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."

    Again, why are you incapable of accepting this reasoned approach? Maybe the mental illness in this scenario is YOU.

    May 6, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Tom

    There goes her NRA endorsement!

    May 6, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Richard in Houston

    Again just asking you are making an arguement that does not exsist. Nobody wants to take away your right to own a handgun, rifle or shot gun. The argument is what to do strenghten exsisting laws to keep the guns out of the hands of a mental unstable person or criminals. Before go off about only criminals will have guns if she elected that argument is given everytime and when a democrat is elected remakable it never happens.

    May 6, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. Joe

    Hillery needs to solve bigger problems than that if she plans to be president, since she has a VERY unexceptional record as a law maker I doubt she can handle the job l being president , since she didn't do any thing noteworthy as a Senator of NY or Secretary of State except go with the status quo. We already have enough of those people in Washington

    May 6, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Harold Read

    Looks like someone just wrote a book about polishing Bill's gun.., and it is not Hillary.

    May 6, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Chris-E...al

    I really dont see nothing wrong with educating hunters as a child i was in the public school system but we also had prayer in the mornings and at lunch to . Now just look what happens in our schools sad it is . Those were the days when you could keep doors unlocked and windows up we had to during the summer we had no a.c. days gone by :

    May 6, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Stanley Gold

    Partisan politics aside, most Americans, if they're honest, must concede the fact that Hilary Clinton is better prepared to assume the Presidency on day one than anyone else on the horizon.

    May 6, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. The REAL Truth...

    @Michelle – they've got the RIGHT to defend themselves too against someone abusing them.
    No arguments with that, but does that right extend to openly carrying weapons in public to the point where my pursuit of the American dream (life, liberty, happiness, etc) is infringed? When do gun owners rights (and I'm one) take precedence of those who don't own guns?

    May 6, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Bill from GA

    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 "

    I remember two incidences in the last few years (probably there were MANY more) where a gun owner's son was killed, one outside a shooting range and one in a gun 'trade show'. Both cases, they didn't know the gun had a bullet in it. Both cases were ruled accidental. No Consequences.

    May 6, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. i'malib

    What difference does it make!

    May 6, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Bill from GA

    Georgia's 'Guns Everywhere' LAW allows guns in many places, by licensed gun owners, who are deemed safe, responsible citizens.

    One place these 'safe, responsible citizens' CANNOT bring their guns is the State Legislature. Seems the lawmakers don't think they are THAT safe and responsible.

    May 6, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. TONE

    The lies of the NRA is getting old, all they care about is their bottomline, not about people's safety. This an evil,and racist organization.

    May 6, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. TONE

    I compare the NRA to Nazi.

    May 6, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Stanley Gold

    There's nothing extreme in my stated opinion – and I suspect that many Americans have a like opinion.

    May 6, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. just saying

    isn't it just wonderful and totally ironic that the women who denied her employees proper armed guards in benghazi that resulted in their death, now thinks usa citizens having guns is also a problem. so the lesson here is elect hillary and end up like ambassador stevens, dead. and i'm sure the kooky lefties will blame your death on a video as well. they have solutions for everything doncha know!

    May 6, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. 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.

    I CAN assure you wherever she goes and at anytime she is protected by a gun. She has for a long time and will all the days of her life. That goes for all the rich and power anti-gun people as well. It's not right they need to change their culture as well.

    May 6, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Bill from GA

    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 "

    I remember two incidences in the last few years (probably there were MANY more) where a gun owner's son was killed, one outside a shooting range and one in a gun 'trade show'. Both cases, they didn't know the gun had a bullet in it. Both cases were ruled accidental. No Consequences.
    The most unjust story that I've ever heard centered on a young couple with a baby, who had just brought a new home, somewhere up in backwoods of Maine, sitting about 10 acres of property. It was their first Thanksgiving morning, having just moved in a month earlier. The couple had taken the baby out into the backyard for some air when suddenly the mother is shot in the chest and later dies.

    It turns out that there were a couple of men hunting dear on their property, which was posted "No Trespassing. Private Property. No Hunting." Signage was never an issue. The men were put on trial before a jury of their peers, their local neighbors. The hunters claimed that they had thought the wife's white gloves were the bushy tail of a deer. Jury decided the wife was wrong for wearing white gloves in the woods during hunting season. She was shot 25 feet from her house, which was situated on a private, 10 acre lot. The hunters went free.

    May 6, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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