Trump goes after Clinton on guns

A file photo shows a National Rifle Association exhibit in Houston, Texas; (right) Donald Trump addressing NRA members in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday.   | Photo Credit: ADREES LATIF

Donald Trump has accused Hillary Clinton of wanting to let violent criminals out of prison and “disarm” law-abiding citizens in unsafe neighbourhoods, and warned that women, in particular, would be at greater risk if she were elected president.

Accepting the endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA) at its annual convention here, Mr. Trump — who has not always been the staunchest opponent of stricter gun controls — said the November election would be a referendum on the Second Amendment. He claimed, hyperbolically, that Ms. Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent, “wants to take away your guns”.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office,” he said.

Ms. Clinton has called for tightened restrictions on guns, but not for abolishing the right to own them.

Appealing to women

Mr. Trump, whose record of sexist remarks, among other things, has left him at a potentially crippling disadvantage among woman voters, polls show, appealed directly to women in his speech, imbuing his defence of gun rights with an undercurrent of fear.

“In trying to overturn the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton is telling everyone — and every woman living in a dangerous community — that she doesn’t have the right to defend herself,” Mr. Trump said. “So you have a woman living in a community, a rough community, a bad community — sorry, you can’t defend yourself.”

If Mr. Trump’s comments seemed reminiscent of an era when crime rates were far higher, they also appeared somewhat at odds with the broad bipartisan consensus on the need to reduce incarceration rates and prison populations: Mr. Trump sought to frighten voters about the idea of criminals being released from prison.

He said Ms. Clinton’s agenda was “to release the violent criminals from jail”, freeing them to roam the streets and put “innocent Americans at risk”. He even tried out a new epithet for Ms. Clinton: “heartless Hillary”. Calling Ms. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, “heartless hypocrites”, he dared them to “let their bodyguards immediately disarm”, an apparent reference to their Secret Service protection.

Aggressive tack

Mr. Trump’s efforts to shore up his support among the NRA’s more than 5 million members could help him in the Rust Belt States that he would need to carry to win the White House. But Ms. Clinton must strike a more delicate balance on the issue: In the Democratic primaries against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has a mixed record on gun control, she has taken an aggressive tack against firearm manufacturers and sellers.

In a general election contest with Mr. Trump, however, Ms. Clinton would vie with him for the loyalties of white voters in a number of battleground States where support for gun rights runs deep. Indeed, in recent weeks, as she campaigned before largely white, working-class audiences, she has de-emphasised gun control and focused more on jobs and economy.

Maya Harris, a senior policy adviser to Ms. Clinton, dismissed Mr. Trump’s attacks on Friday, saying he was “peddling falsehoods.” “Along with the vast majority of Americans, Hillary Clinton believes there are common-sense steps we can take at the federal level to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while respecting the Second Amendment,” Ms. Harris said. — New York Times News Service

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 10:39:23 PM |

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