Lost in the debate over Donald Trump's comments about how to stop Hillary Clinton from abolishing the Second Amendment is the not-unimportant fact that Clinton has not actually suggested anything of the sort.
"Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment," Trump said Tuesday at a North Carolina campaign rally Tuesday. "By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks ... Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know."
Trump's remarks have been interpreted by critics to mean anything from a veiled threat to Clinton's life to a reckless dog whistle for supporters to violently oppose gun reform. Meanwhile, Trump's campaign surrogates have written the comment off as a bad joke or a poorly phrased appeal to the voting power of gun rights advocates in the upcoming election. But regardless of the modes of opposition, what does Clinton actually want to do about the Second Amendment?
In the official platform on her campaign website, Clinton calls for "common sense" gun control measures to curb the high rates of gun violence in the United States. These include making it illegal for those on terrorist watch lists to buy guns, expanding background checks and closing the gun show loophole, online sales loophole and the famed "Charleston" loophole. She also advocates for making it hard for domestic abusers and those suffering from mental illnesses to buy guns.
The most extreme measure Clinton advocates for is her promise to "keep military-style weapons off our streets."
"I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets," Clinton has said on the campaign trail.
Speaking more specifically, Clinton has called for a renewed ban on assault rifle-style weapons, like the AR-15, which has famously been used in a number of mass shooting over the past decade, including the Sandy Hook massacre in Newton, Connecticut. This is not a radical idea. Many polls indicate that a majority of Americans share that view.
What Trump has repeatedly accused Clinton of advocating for is much more extreme. To date, Clinton has not once called for a repeal of the Second Amendment in the 2016 election cycle. However, Trump has implied something more subtle. By saying that Clinton "essentially" wants to abolish the Second Amendment, he suggests that Clinton's desired regulations would in aggregate strip Americans' rights to gun ownership. But no policy Clinton has called for would affect the guns Americans already own.
Another of Trump's assertions is that even if Clinton, as president, stacked the Supreme Court with justices sympathetic to gun control — as Trump has warned — that alone would not be enough to abolish the Second Amendment. To truly abolish the right to bear arms, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution would have to be proposed with the support of two-thirds of both houses of Congress. Then, that amendment would have to be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures. It would take massive bipartisan support, and winning the White House would not allow Clinton to do that alone.
And while a sympathetic Supreme Court would allow the court to rule in favor of certain gun control measures and chip away at the Second Amendment in aggregate, as Trump has suggested. The court could only rule on laws that have already been passed by either the Federal Government or state legislatures or court challenges to those laws. Clinton cannot act alone. The armed resistance to the Democratic nominee some believe Trump called for Tuesday can probably stand down for now.