Clinton Wants to Work to Limit Numbers and Kinds of People With Access to Guns

By Susan Jones | March 7, 2016 | 6:53am EST
Democrat Hillary Clinton argues a point as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., reacts during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan-Flint, Sunday, March 6, 2016, in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

( - "I think we have to try everything that works to try to limit the numbers of people and the kinds of people who are given access to firearms," Hillary Clinton said at Sunday night's Democrat debate in Michigan.

"The Brady Bill, which has been in effect now for about 23 years, has kept more than two million purchases from going forward. So we do have to continue to try to work on that because not every killer will have the same profile."

Clinton endorsed "comprehensive background checks" for online purchases and those at guns shows. She aslo wants to make sure gun sales do not proceed if background checks are not completed in three days.

"I also believe, so strongly...that giving immunity to gunmakers and sellers was a terrible mistake. Because it removed any accountability from the makers and the sellers.

"And it also disrupted what was a very promising legal theory, to try to get makers to do more to make guns safer, for example. To try to give sellers more accountability for selling guns when they shouldn't have.

"So that is an issue that Senator Sanders and I differ on, I voted against giving them immunity, but I think we should very seriously move to repeal that and go back to making sure gun makers and sellers are like any other business. They can be held accountable."

Clinton called for a "public discussion" on "a culture in which people grab for guns all the time."

She was responding to a question from Gene Kopf, the father of a 14-year-old girl who was critically injured when an Uber driver randomly shot her in Kalamazoo, Michigan, two weeks ago.

Here's how Kopf framed the question:

The United States has had a rash of mass shootings over the years -- 42 shootings in the United States this year alone. The man who shot everyone, including my daughter, in Kalamazoo, had no mental health issues recorded, and had a clear background.

What do you plan to do to address this serious epidemic? I don't want to hear anything about tougher laws for mental health or criminal backgrounds, because that doesn't work.

Sanders said he agrees with President Obama, that "nobody has a magic solution to this problem."

"Any lunatic tomorrow, any person can walk into a theater and do something horrific. And you know what? For us to tell you that that absolutely will not happen would be untrue. But what the president said, he said look, this is a tough issue. But we have got to do everything we possibly can to minimize the possibility of these mass killings."

Sanders noted that he comes from a rural state with no gun control. But he supports a ban on military-style weapons; he would ban armor-piercing bullets; he said he agrees with Clinton on expanding and improving instant background checks. He said he also agrees that gun sales should not proceed if those background check take longer than three days.

But Sanders differs with Clinton on the issue of liability for gun manufacturers.

Debate moderator Anderson Cooper noted that the families of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School plan to sue Remington, the maker of the AR-15 that was used in the massacre because they think Remington should be legally responsible for how their product was used.

"Now, the lawsuit may not go anywhere because of the bill you voted for -- legislation that prevents gun makers from being sued. Tonight, what do you say to those families?" Cooper asked Sanders.

"Well, this is what I say, if I understand it -- and correct me if I'm wrong. If you go to a gun store and you legally purchase a gun, and then, three days later, if you go out and start killing people, is the point of this lawsuit to hold the gun shop owner or the manufacturer of that gun liable?

"If that is the point, I have to tell you I disagree. I disagree because you hold people -- in terms of this liability thing, where you hold manufacturers' liability is if they understand that they're selling guns into an area that -- it's getting into the hands of criminals, of course they should be held liable.

"But if they are selling a product to a person who buys it legally, what you're really talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don't agree with that."

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