Hillary Clinton Is Zoning In On This Issue To Hit Bernie Sanders Where It Hurts

It was something like a homecoming for the Democratic presidential frontrunner at the Hillary Clinton campaign event at Harlem's Apollo Theater on Wednesday. With friendly shout-outs to New York officials like Sen. Chuck Schumer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Rep. Charles Rangel, there was obvious love for the Empire State in the room. However, Clinton's speech reached its crescendo as she touched on the issue her campaign has been trying to take ownership of in recent months to highlight where she has some progressive edge over opponent Bernie Sanders: gun control.

Clinton has been holding strong to the issue in recent months, consistently criticizing Sanders' hit-and-miss record on gun safety measures while arguing for more attention to be paid to a range of intersecting social inequality issues beyond just economic reform. “I know how important it is to close that gap," Clinton said of the need to rebuild the middle class. "But it’s also important to take on racial inequality and discrimination in all of its forms, and it’s important to stand up to the gun lobby and fight for common-sense gun safety reforms.”

Discussing the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Schumer which called for background checks for gun purchasers and restrictions on firearm access for felons, Clinton pointed out that Sanders voted against the bill five times. Clinton recalled Schumer's effort to get the bill passed:

People were getting cold feet. Folks talk about all the powerful lobbies in Washington — and look there are a bunch of them — but nothing, no one is more powerful than the gun lobby. So I understood why some members of congress were saying 'Oh my gosh, we can't do this,' and some folks in the White House, the administration, were getting nervous. But I thought then and I believe now, whatever we can do to save lives, we must do. And I remember how hard it was to get the Brady Bill passed. My opponent voted against it five times as I recall. He has sided with the NRA on the important votes of the last 20 years.

Clinton has dedicated time at multiple campaign stops to the gun control issue, including a sit-down at the Tabernacle Community Baptist Church in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. The New York Times' Amy Chozick reported that Clinton was "sitting onstage with mothers who had lost children to clashes with police or guns," drawing particular attention the ways gun violence intersect with issues of systemic racism.

“The epidemic of gun violence spares no one, but it is concentrated in areas that are short on hope and where we still face the effects of systemic racism,” Clinton said at the Milwaukee stop. “We can’t go on like this, my friends ... We lose 90 people a day to gun violence, that is 33,000 Americans a year. If anything else, a disease were killing 33,000 Americans a year, we would come together and say ‘How do we deal with this?’”