Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton responded to likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s accusations about her views on gun safety during a keynote speech Saturday at the third annual Circle of Mothers Conference and Retreat.
Clinton called for action against gun violence and wrongful incarceration as well as more mental health support, especially for young children, as she spoke to a room of mothers, fathers and grandmothers, many of whom had experienced the loss of a child due to gun violence. The event, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, supported the Trayvon Martin Foundation and was live-streamed by NBC News. (Martin was the black youth who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012.)
“Something is wrong when so many young people just starting their lives are dying,” Clinton said during her speech. The former first lady, U.S. senator and U.S. secretary of state highlighted several statistics related to gun violence, such as at least 23 people being shot by toddlers this year and 33,000 Americans dying every year by guns.
The remarks came a day after Trump addressed the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky, where he accused Clinton of wanting to “ban every gun” in the country. “The Second Amendment is under threat like never before,” Trump said. “Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office.”
Trump has said that, if elected in November, he would abolish the executive orders addressing gun violence that President Barack Obama issued after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. Trump also has endorsed allowing guns in every school in America, an idea that Clinton said would further threaten the lives of children.
Clinton repeated Trump’s claims to the attendees of the Circle of Mothers Conference and Retreat. “This is someone running for president,” Clinton said. “He’s talking about more hatred and division in our streets.” She also denounced the NRA, the gun lobbying group that endorsed Trump for president shortly before the candidate's Friday speech.
“We know the gun lobby is powerful," Clinton said. "I believe it’s the most powerful lobby in Washington.”
Before Clinton took the stage, she was introduced by Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayon Martin who has previously campaigned for the Democrat. “The reason for why I stand for her is she first stood for me,” Fulton said. “Not one single candidate was talking about senseless gun violence.”
That claim is not completely true. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, also has called for action against gun violence. But Sanders has taken criticism from anti-gun activists for his position that gun manufacturers and dealers should not be held liable for making or selling weapons that are linked to crimes.
Meanwhile, Fulton has repeatedly criticized Sanders for his comments. For instance, in March, she condemned Sanders’ response to a debate question on racial blind spots, in which Sanders linked African-American people to “living in a ghetto,” CNN reported.
Clinton did not mention Sanders during Saturday's speech. Her policy proposals on guns include strengthening background checks, such as not allowing anyone on the government’s “no-fly” list to purchase a gun.
Sanders now also calls for more background checks. He had previously voted against such regulations in Congress, such as the Brady Bill in 1993.