By Kevin Cirilli - 06/20/15 01:39 PM EDT
Clinton calls for gun reforms in wake of Charleston shooting
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump aide: 'Hillary is the one who’s got a gender gap' WaPo editorial board: 'No excuse' for Clinton email practices Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE called for new restrictions on firearms in wake of the shooting in the shooting at a predominantly black church in Charleston, S.C., earlier this week.
Clinton also called for a national conversation about race relations, saying institutionalized racism still exists in prepared remarks in San Francisco at a national mayoral conference.
"How is it that we as a nation still allow guns to fall into the hands of people whose hearts are filled with hate?" she asked. "You can't watch massacre after massacre and not come to the conclusion that as President Obama said, we must tackle this challenge with urgency and conviction."
"I am not and will not be afraid to keep fighting for common-sense reforms and, along with you, achieve those on behalf of all who have been lost because of this senseless gun violence in our country," she said.
She said that "once again, bodies are being carried out of a black church," adding that while "it is tempting to dismiss [this tragedy] as an isolated incident ... America's long struggle with race is far from finished."
Earlier this week, authorities arrested Dylann Roof, 21, in connection with the killing of nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a predominantly black church.
"Faith has always seen this community through and I know it will again. Just as earlier generations threw off the chains of slavery and then segregation and Jim Crow — this generation will not be shackled by fear and hate," Clinton said.
Clinton alluded to a gun-reform proposal put forth by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that failed to become law after an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"It makes no sense that bipartisan legislation to require universal background checks would fail in Congress despite overwhelming public support," she said. "It makes no sense that we couldn't come together to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers or people suffering from mental illness, even people on the terror watch list."
"That doesn't make sense and it is a rebuke to this nation we love and care about," she said.
On the topic of race, she said Americans need to ask themselves uncomfortable questions, saying that "the sight of young black man in a hoodie still evokes a twinge of fear" for many white people.
Racism, she said, still exists subtly in "the cruel joke that goes unchallenged. It's the offhand comment about not wanting 'those' people in the neighborhood."
"We can't hide from any of these hard truths about race and justice in America," she said. "We have to name them and own them and then change them."