Politics

Clinton In 2008: Federal Government Trying To Impose "Blanket Rules" On Guns Doesn't Make Sense

"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.” Update: A spokesman says Clinton was "warning against" federal blanket restrictions that would prevent localities from going further.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Hillary Clinton has argued strongly for gun control during this election cycle, calling for a "national movement" to take on the National Rifle Association and universal background checks for gun-buyers.

"There are a lot of ways for us to have constitutional, legal gun restrictions," Clinton said on Friday. "My husband did. He passed the Brady bill, and he eliminated assault weapons for 10 years. So we're gonna take them on. We took them on in the '90s. We're gonna take them on again."

Amid a heated moment in the 2008 Democratic primary, in a debate against then-Illinois senator Barack Obama that April, Clinton argued that "having any kind of blanket rules" set by the federal government on guns "doesn't make sense."

Clinton made the comments in response to a question from moderator Charlie Gibson regarding whether she favors the licensing and registration of handguns.

"What I favor is what works in New York," she said. "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."

In the 2008 debate, George Stephanopoulos challenged Clinton's answer, alluding to her support for a national gun registry during her 2000 run for Senate in New York.

"I was for the New York rules, that's right," Clinton said. "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."

Stephanopoulos had previously asked Clinton her view of the ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., which has since been struck down.

"I want to give local communities the opportunity to have some authority over determining how to keep their citizens safe," Clinton answered, before further saying she supported "sensible regulation that is consistent with the constitutional right to own and bear arms."

She suggested that "a total ban" "might be found by the court not to be" constitutional, but admitted, "I don't know the facts."

"I don't think that should blow open a hole that says that D.C. or Philadelphia or anybody else cannot come up with sensible regulations to protect their people and keep, you know, machine guns and assault weapons out of the hands of folks who shouldn't have them," she added.

The debate happened less than a week after Clinton attacked her rival Obama's remark that people in "small towns in Pennsylvania" "get bitter" and then "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them."

Clinton responded by saying that "Obama's remarks are elitist, and they are out of touch." She also touted her own sharpshooting credentials, saying that her father "took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl."

Adding that guns were "part of culture," she said, "People enjoy hunting and shooting because it's an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter."

Obama subsequently mocked her for "talking like she's Annie Oakley."

During her husband Bill Clinton's presidential administration, Hillary Clinton was a vocal proponent of the federal ban on assault weapons and the Brady Bill, which mandated federal background checks on firearm purchases. Earlier during her first campaign for president, in October 2007, Clinton said "I support the Second Amendment," adding that "law-abiding citizens should be able to own guns," but arguing that she also believed "strongly in smart laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists."

Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson told BuzzFeed News on Sunday, "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."

On Sunday morning, Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon also tweeted this about Clinton's objection to "blanket rules":

.@chriskmassie topic at time was DC handgun ban. Her skepticism on "blanket rules" was abt feds stopping locals from going FARTHER on guns

Here's the video:

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

UPDATE

This post has been updated with comment from the Clinton campaign.

Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.