Hillary Clinton graciously granted an interview on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos today and, among other things, the conversation wandered around to gun rights. Clinton has been all over the map on the Second Amendment rights of Americans through the course of her career, going the full Annie Oakley route in her first presidential bid and then supporting an “Australian Style” government confiscation program this time around. The host managed to press her on the question of whether or not the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right as enshrined in the Constitution or not and Clinton is seen here doing every sort of linguistic gymnastics possible to avoid saying that it is.
Let’s start with the video, courtesy of America Rising.
This first portion of her answer contains some dancing which could land Clinton on the next season of Tom Bergeron’s hit television show.
I think that for most of our history there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment until the decision by the late Justice Scalia, and that there was no argument until then that localities and state and federal government had a right, as we do with every amendment, to impose reasonable regulations.
Right off the bat, it’s interesting how she seeks to “blame” the individual right on Scalia. (Convenient, now that he’s passed on and cant’s answer, eh?) It’s almost as if Clinton feels that he made that decision single handed with no input from anyone else. It’s hard to avoid feeling that there’s a bit of a jab buried in that answer which lets her supporters know that if she’s in charge we’ll get some good justices on the bench who won’t make such foolish rulings.
But the second part of her answer is even more compelling in the same way that it’s difficult to look away from a car wreck. She casually talks about the government, at all levels, having the ability to “impose reasonable regulations” on the Bill of Rights. The reality, of course, is that there are occasional instances where fundamental rights have restrictions, but they have traditionally been kept to only the most extreme of circumstances where exercising your rights would knowingly and intentionally endanger others in a critical fashion. The courts have demonstrated extreme trepidation in treading across that line in every case. The right to free speech is so broad that one of the only exceptions is the hypothetical case of yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater and killing a group of people. Restrictions on the free exercise of religion are almost nonexistent, with the only exceptions being cases where religion is fraudulently used as an excuse to break other laws, such as illicit drug use. And we don’t put the freedom of the press in check unless there’s a direct threat to national security. In fact, the Second Amendment is virtually the only right which has seen such restrictions placed upon it.
Through all of Clinton’s meandering, though, she never actually answers the original question. Does the Second Amendment constitute an individual right? Stephanopoulos presses her a second time to take a stand on that question. Her response isn’t much better.
If it is a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right is subject to reasonable regulations. And what people have done with that decision is to take it as far as they possibly can and reject what has been our history from the very beginning of the republic where some of the earliest laws that were passed were about firearms.
Note that she didn’t even say, “if it is an individual right.” Whether it was a Freudian slip or not, she questioned whether or not the right to keep and bear arms was even a Constitutional right. She goes on to hit Bernie Sanders again about immunity for firearms manufacturers and some other word salad, but Clinton is pretty well cementing her position for the general election. Sanders and the rest of the socialist wing of the party have pushed her so far to the left on gun rights at this point that she has no path remaining to get back off that ledge and into a more moderate position.