The Corner

Hillary Is Pushing Her Luck on Gun Control

Per the Huffington Post, the Hillary campaign has really ramped up the gun control talk:

It’s “worth considering” whether the United States should emulate Australia by instituting a national gun buyback program, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Friday at a town hall in New Hampshire.

A man in the audience asked Clinton whether she thought it would be possible for the U.S. to enact such a program, and if not, why. Gun buybacks have happened at the metropolitan level in the U.S., but any effort at the national level would be sure to run into intense political opposition.

Clinton, for her part, seemed open to the idea.

“Australia is a good example, Canada is a good example, the U.K. is a good example. Why? Because each of them have had mass killings” she said. “Australia had a huge mass killing about 20, 25 years ago, Canada did as well, so did the U.K. And, in reaction, they passed much stricter gun laws.”

Australia’s mandatory gun buyback program of semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns was enacted after a shooter killed 35 people in 1996. The country bought back more than 650,000 weapons.

“Mandatory gun buyback,” I need not explain, is another word for “confiscation.”

Really, I can’t help but feel that Hillary is misreading the public mood here. Since the election of 2000 — in which year Al Gore lost his own state in part because of his enthusiasm for gun control — Democrats have tended to shy away from this area. What, one has to wonder, has led them to believe that they should change course now? As far as I am aware, not a single poll suggests that Americans today are more friendly toward the idea than they were in 2000, which, inter alia, is why Barack Obama did not like to talk publicly about the Second Amendment during his runs in 2008 or 2012. Is Hillary really so convinced that she is going to win the general that she believes she can buck the conventional wisdom and run as an unapologetic gun-controller during the primary?

Even if she is, the manner in which she is going about her little crusade is a touch peculiar. Were she sticking to the time-honored talking points about “sensible regulation” and “common sense” rules, one could comprehend the gamble. But to actively indulge talk of confiscation? To praise “much stricter gun laws”? That would seem to be setting up a damaging showdown with contemporary public opinion — a showdown that might not end too well. Here’s Byron Tau reporting some words of wisdom from Hillary’s husband, Bill:

Clinton recalled Al Gore’s 2000 campaign against George W. Bush in Colorado, where a referendum designed to close the so-called gun show loophole shared the ballot with the presidential ticket. Gore publicly backed the proposal, while Bush opposed it. 

Though the referendum passed with 70 percent of the vote, Gore lost the state. Clinton said that the reason was because a good chunk of the referendum’s opponents were single-issue voters who automatically rejected Gore as anti-gun. 

And Clinton said that passing the 1994 federal assault weapons ban “devastated” more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers in the 1994 midterms — and cost then-Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-Wash.) his job and his seat in Congress. 

“I’ve had many sleepless nights in the many years since,” Clinton said. One reason? “I never had any sessions with the House members who were vulnerable,” he explained — saying that he had assumed they already knew how to explain their vote for the ban to their constituents.

Time, perhaps, for Hillary to book such a session?

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