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Clinton outlines plan to challenge gun lobby

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 05. 2015 7:57PM
The audience applauds as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes the stage at a campaign town hall meeting in Manchester on Monday. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

MANCHESTER — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, outlining her plan to curb gun violence Monday, vowed that she would use executive action to implement reforms if Congress does nothing to address it.

She proposed comprehensive background checks, repealing the law that grants immunity to gun makers facing lawsuits, a ban on assault weapons, tightening gun show and Internet sales, and keeping guns from domestic abusers and people with serious mental health problems.

At Manchester Community College, Clinton invited a mother of a child who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to speak to the audience. She was also introduced by Erin Kerwin of Manchester, who spoke of the immediacy of gun violence, following the death of Denise Robert in her neighborhood last month.

“My heart breaks for her family every time I think of it,” Kerwin said.

The majority of Americans, and gun owners, support universal background checks, Clinton said. “It’s time for us to say, wait a minute, we’re better than this. Our country is better than this,” she said.

At her most fired up, Clinton accused the National Rifle Association of blocking sensible legislation. Raising her voice, she called for NRA members “to form a different organization and take back the Second Amendment from the extremists.”

The NRA declined to respond to Clinton’s comment when reached by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Gun control and gun rights emerged again in the presidential race following a man who shot and killed nine people at a community college in Oregon, before killing himself, last week.

Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, over the weekend, called on Clinton and fellow Democratic rival Bernie Sanders to support additional measures he had proposed. O’Malley called for a ban on assault weapons, making gun trafficking a federal crime, requiring anyone who buys a gun to get licensed and fingerprinted, and having the federal government refuse to buy guns from any company that does not use the latest safety technology.

Sanders, in a statement following the Oregon shooting, said the U.S. needs a comprehensive approach that includes keeping guns from people who should not have them, including the mentally ill. He is currently developing a gun violence prevention proposal.

In Manchester, Clinton referred to an epidemic, attributing 33,000 deaths a year to gun violence.

She also cited statistics from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, that the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act stopped more than 2 million illegal gun sales since 1994, with 1 million of those being attempts by convicted felons.

More must be done, she said, as she spoke of building political consensus and will.

Former U.S. Rep. Dick Swett, D-N.H., joined Clinton at the event to recount his vote for the Brady bill in 1994. He read a letter that former President Ronald Reagan sent him, urging him to support it.

That vote cost Swett his political career, for the time being.

“I voted for that in 1994 and we’ve seen so many horrible things in the interim, and it’s got to stop,” Swett said before the event. “It’s a degradation of our quality of life.”

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