Hillary Clinton’s new gun control policy proposal includes a threat to take unilateral executive action to close the so-called gun show loophole. But a different Hillary Clinton — the one that ran for president in 2008 — opposed such “blanket rules” during a debate in April of that year.
In her new gun control pitch, Clinton calls on Congress to pass a law requiring background checks on all gun purchases. And if Congress fails to act, a President Clinton would act on her own to require private gun sellers at gun shows and on the internet to register as “in the business” of selling guns. That would force them to conduct background checks.
But Clinton has opposed taking federal action on gun laws in the past.
As BuzzFeed reported over the weekend, during an April 2008 debate with then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton spoke out against “having any kind of blanket rules” set at the federal level on guns.
She was talking specifically about whether she supports registering handguns. (RELATED: Carson Explains His Shift On Gun Control)
Clinton said that the issue should be left up to individual localities, not enacted by the federal government.
“What I favor is what works in New York,” she told debate moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. “You know, we have a set of rules in New York City and we have a totally different set of rules in the rest of the state. What might work in New York City is certainly not going to work in Montana. So, for the federal government to be having any kind of, you know, blanket rules that they’re going to try to impose, I think doesn’t make sense.”
Stephanopoulos followed up with Clinton, asking her about her support for a national gun registry as a Senate candidate in 2000.
“I was for the New York rules, that’s right,” Clinton responded. “I was for the New York rules because they have worked over time. And there isn’t a lot of uproar in New York about changing them, because I go to upstate New York, where we have a lot of hunters and people who are collectors and people who are sport shooters; they have every reason to believe that their rights are being respected.”
Clinton was clearly trying to appeal to conservative Democrats on the issue. The week before the debate, Obama had uttered his infamous statement that voters in rural Pennsylvania “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”
Clinton responded to the remarks during the debate, saying that “Obama’s remarks are elitist, and they are out of touch.”
“People enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter,” she added.
The Clinton campaign responded to BuzzFeed on Sunday, stating that “Hillary Clinton was clearly warning against blanket restrictions that would prevent violence-ridden localities from enacting gun safety laws that are stronger than what is in place at the federal level.”
“She supported universal background checks throughout the 2008 campaign, as she does today,” said campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson.