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 can’t 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 don’t 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.
Actually, Obama’s 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.
Obama’s campaign said, “Sen. Obama didn’t fill out these state Senate questionnaires--a staffer did--and there are several answers that didn’t reflect his views then or now. He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire, but some answers didn’t reflect his views.”
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, doesn’t 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.
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.
A: I want to give local communities the authority over determining how to keep their citizens safe. This case you’re 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 they’re going to try to impose, I think doesn’t make sense.
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