Every time Donald Trump makes what is perceived as a gaffe or a controversial comment, the networks don’t hesitate to cover it. Yet, when Hilary Clinton on Sunday refused to agree that the Second Amendment is an individual right, the comment was ignored on the evening newscasts and Monday’s morning shows.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos eventually pressed Clinton. He started out offering cover: “Donald Trump has been out on the stump talking about the Second Amendment, saying you want to abolish the Second Amendment. I know you reject that.” But then the anchor demanded, “But I want to ask you a specific question. Do you believe that an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right? That it's not linked to service in a militia?”
After the Democrat dodged the question, the This Week anchor, who secretly donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, again helped: “And the Heller decision also says there can be some restrictions.” But, to his credit, he also followed up: “But that's not what I asked. Do you believe their conclusion an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right?”
Clinton was non-committal: “If it is a constitutional right, then it like every other constitutional right is subject to reasonable regulations.”
The comment caught the attention of the online version of the Washington Post. A headline blared, “Hillary Clinton wavers on Second Amendment right to bear arms.” Yet, ABC, CBS and NBC all skipped it on Sunday night and Monday morning. However, Trump’s controversial comments about a judge with Mexican heritage were all covered.
A transcript of the exchange is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the Second Amendment. As you know, Donald Trump has been out on the stump talking about the Second Amendment, saying you want to abolish the Second Amendment. I know you reject that. But I want to ask you a specific question, do you believe that an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right? That it's not linked to service in a militia?
HILLARY CLINTON: 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 there was no argument until then that localities and states and the federal government had a right, as we do with every amendment, to impose reasonable regulations. So I believe we can have commonsense gun safety measures consistent with the Second Amendment and, in fact, what I have proposed is supported by 90 percent of the American people and more than 75 percent of responsible gun owners. So that is exactly what I think is constitutionally permissible. And once again, you have Donald Trump just making outright fabrications accusing me of something that is absolutely untrue. But I'm going to continue to speak out for comprehensive background checks, closing the gun show loophole closing the online loophole, closing the so-called Charleston loophole, reversing the bill that Senator Sanders voted for and I voted against, giving immunity from liability to gun makers and sellers. I think all of that can and should be done and it is, in my view, consistent with the Constitution.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the Heller decision also says there can be some restrictions, but that's not what I asked. Do you believe their conclusion an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right?
CLINTON: 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 were about firearms. So I think it's important to rec advertise that ream people can say, as I do, responsible gun owners have a right, I have no objection to that, but the rest of the American public has a right to require certain kinds of regulatory, responsible actions to protect everyone else.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How far would you go on that? Back in 1993, I want to show it right here you actually came out in support a gun tax. Let's listen.
THEN-SENATOR BILL BRADLEY: How do you react to a 25 percent sales tax on handguns and on automatic weapons?
CLINTON: I'm all for that. I just don't know what else we're going to do to try to figure out how to get some handle on this violence. We will look at your proposal and be happy to talk with you about it. I'm speaking personally but I feel very strongly about that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Still believe that?
CLINTON: What I was saying back then was that we have a lot of public health costs that taxpayers end up paying for through Medicaid, Medicare, through uncompensated care because that was in the context of the push for health care reform. And that we needed some way to try to defray those costs and I'm not going to commit to any specific proposal. I was speaking personally then. I would have to, you know, consider any proposal in light of how it interacted with all the others that we want to continue to advocate for, particularly as I said, comprehensive background checks. But that was in the context of health care.