2008 Democratic primary debate in Philadelphia, April 16, 2008: on Gun Control


Barack Obama: Ok for states & cities to determine local gun laws

Q: Is the D.C. law prohibiting ownership of handguns consistent with an individualís right to bear arms?

A: As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government canít constrain the exercise of that right, in the same way that we have a right to private property but local governments can establish zoning ordinances that determine how you can use it.

Q: But do you still favor the registration & licensing of guns?

A: I think we can provide common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets. We can make sure that criminals donít have guns in their hands. We can make certain that those who are mentally deranged are not getting a hold of handguns. We can trace guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers that may be selling to straw purchasers and dumping them on the streets.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

Barack Obama: FactCheck: Yes, Obama endorsed Illinois handgun ban

Obama was being misleading when he denied that his handwriting had been on a document endorsing a state ban on the sale and possession of handguns in Illinois. Obama responded, ďNo, my writing wasnít on that particular questionnaire. As I said, I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.Ē

Actually, Obamaís writing was on the 1996 document, which was filed when Obama was running for the Illinois state Senate. A Chicago nonprofit, Independent Voters of Illinois, had this question, and Obama took hard line:

35. Do you support state legislation to:
a. ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns? Yes.
b. ban assault weapons? Yes.
c. mandatory waiting periods and background checks? Yes.

Obamaís campaign said, ďSen. Obama didnít fill out these state Senate questionnaires--a staffer did--and there are several answers that didnít reflect his views then or now. He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire, but some answers didnít reflect his views.Ē

Source: FactCheck.org analysis of 2008 Philadelphia primary debate Apr 16, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Balance lawful gun ownership & keeping guns from criminals

Q: Both you and Sen. Obama, in the past, have supported strong gun control measures. But now when I listen to you on the campaign, I hear you emphasizing that you believe in an individualís right to bear arms. Both of you were strong advocates for licensing of guns. Both of you were strong advocates for the registration of guns. Why donít you emphasize that now?

CLINTON: I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns, but I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands. And as president, I will work to try to bridge this divide, which I think has been polarizing and, frankly, doesnít reflect the common sense of the American people. We will strike the right balance to protect the constitutional right but to give people the feeling & the reality that they will be protected from guns in the wrong hands.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Give local police access to federal gun tracking info

I will be a good partner, for cities like Philadelphia, as president. Because I will bring back the so-called COPS program, where we had 100,000 police on the street, which really helped drive down the crime rate and also helped create better community relations.

I will also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We had it during the 1990s. It really was an aid to our police officers, who are now once again, because it has lapsed--the Republicans will not reinstate it--are being outgunned on our streets by these military-style weapons.

I will also work to make sure that police departments get access to the federal information that will enable them to track illegal guns, because the numbers are astounding. Probably 80% of the guns used in gun crimes got there illegally. And under the Republicans, that information was kept from local law enforcement.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Let states & cities determine local gun laws

Q: Do you support the DC handgun ban?

A: I want to give local communities the authority over determining how to keep their citizens safe. This case youíre referring to is before the Supreme Court.

Q: But what do you support?

A: I support sensible regulation that is consistent with the constitutional right to own and bear arms.

Q: Is the DC ban consistent with that right?

A: I think a total ban, with no exceptions under any circumstances, might be found by the court not to be. But DC or anybody else [should be able to\ come up with sensible regulations to protect their people.

Q: But do you still favor licensing and registration of handguns?

A: What I favor is what works in NY. We have one set of rules in NYC and a totally different set of rules in the rest of the state. What might work in NYC is certainly not going to work in Montana. So, for the federal government to be having any kind of blanket rules that theyíre going to try to impose, I think doesnít make sense.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

  • The above quotations are from 2008 Democratic primary debate in Philadelphia, April 16, 2008 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary..
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Gun Control.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
  • Click here for more quotes by Barack Obama on Gun Control.
  • Click here for more quotes by Hillary Clinton on Gun Control.
Candidates and political leaders on Gun Control:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.:Sen.Barack Obama
V.P.:Sen.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
Treas.:Tim Geithner
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoC:Bill Richardson
Outgoing Bush Administration:
Pres.:George Bush
V.P.:Dick Cheney
A.G.:John Ashcroft(2005)
DEA:Asa Hutchinson(2005)
USDA:Mike Johanns(2007)
EPA:Mike Leavitt
HUD:Mel Martinez(2003)
State:Colin Powell(2005)
State:Condoleezza Rice
HHS:Tommy Thompson(2005)
2008 Presidential contenders:
AIP: Frank McEnulty
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP VP: Gov.Sarah Palin
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Independent: Ralph Nader
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
NAIP: Amb.Alan Keyes
Socialist: Brian Moore
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