DOVER, N.H. -- Renewing a call for “sensible gun safety measures,” Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton chastised congressional Republicans Thursday for blocking a vote on a plan that she said would ban those on the federal government’s No Fly List from buying guns.
“On this issue, where people who are too dangerous to fly in America can still buy guns in America, there should be no debate,” said Clinton, speaking to more than 400 at a town hall meeting here. “We’re not violating anybody’s rights.”
No federal law explicitly prevents those on the No Fly List from purchasing firearms. People on the No Fly List are not permitted on commercial flights into or out of the United States. On Wednesday, President Obama also called for legislation banning those on the No Fly List from buying guns.
Clinton has called for stricter gun controls since the shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., in June. But her call took on a new urgency Thursday, just one day after 14 people were killed in a mass shooting at a social services center for developmentally disabled people in San Bernardino, Calif. The shooting is being investigated as a possible terrorist attack.
As details of the attack became clearer Thursday, including the size of an arsenal of weapons stockpiled by the couple who opened fire in the center, Clinton said, “It’s becoming clearer that we are dealing with an act of terrorism.”
She added, “It does raise some serious questions about how we need to be protecting ourselves, how we need to be sure that we have the best possible intelligence that is shared between local law enforcement, state, and federal law enforcement, and that we do everything we can to prevent these kinds of attacks.”
Clinton’s visit came less than 10 weeks before the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary in early February, with polls showing her in a statistical tie with her main Democratic opponent, US Senator Bernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont. She leads in national polls.
Earlier in the day, Clinton spoke at a forum on economic opportunity for women at Southern New Hampshire University, where she reportedly told the crowd she “will not be silenced” in her call this election cycle for stricter gun control legislation.
She reiterated that sentiment at the town hall meeting later in Dover, saying, “I will continue to speak out about it, and I will look for people who are willing to work with me, and I would urgently request that responsible gun owners stand up to the irresponsible, almost unconscionable behavior of the gun lobby.”
Among those in the audience was Nancy Kirtland, a 57-year-old Dover resident. She described herself as a long-time Clinton supporter and said she appreciated Clinton’s call for congressional action in the wake of the California shootings.
“Are we just going to get callous with all this widespread terrorism? I know a little bit of my heart gets ripped out each time,” she said. “It’s still on my mind. I knew she was going to start with that.”
Madge Desmond, 63, of Carlisle, Mass., who described herself as an independent, said she, too, agreed with everything Clinton had to say. But she said she was not ready to commit to voting for the former US secretary of state.
“I am tired of hearing about shootings,” she said. “If we’re not going to control guns, I don’t even want to hear about how many people are getting killed.”
Desmond, however, said she is still skeptical as to whether or not Clinton, or any other presidential candidate, would turn their words into action in office.
“They’re all afraid of the NRA,” Desmond said. “None of them want to stand up and take them on, so I think she could be stronger on it.”Jacob Carozza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Victoria Bilcik can be reached at email@example.com.