Presidential Campaign

Clinton’s explanation of SCOTUS Heller decision was totally wrong

Hillary Clinton
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Hillary Clinton

Last October, Hillary Clinton was caught on tape telling donors she believes the Supreme Court is “wrong” on the Second Amendment. In the last debate, she was asked by Chris Wallace what exactly she meant by that.

It didn’t go well.

{mosads}“You mentioned the Heller decision, and what I was saying, that you referenced Chris, was that I disagreed with how the court applied the Second Amendment in that case because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them and the court didn’t accept that reasonable regulation, but they’ve accepted many others,” Clinton said in her rather rambling response.

Apparently, Clinton would have the American public believe that the landmark Heller decision was about toddlers’ access to unsecured firearms. That’s simply not true and, frankly, more than a little bizarre.

Dick Anthony Heller was a special policeman in the District of Columbia. He wanted something to do something pretty much every law-abiding adult outside of the nation’s capital could: own a handgun. Unfortunately, D.C. made possession of an unregistered firearm a crime and flat prohibited registration of any handguns.

In other words, D.C. had a total ban on all handguns.

That’s why Mr. Heller and a number of other people filed suit against the city. That’s what the case centered around. That’s why the decision ended up being so important.

The city did also have a law that required people to store their guns unloaded and either disassembled or locked and it did argue its laws served to protect children. However, this was a secondary argument that the justices, in their majority opinion, didn’t even bother to address and the dissenting justices who sided with the city mentioned only in passing.

Instead, both sides spent their time arguing whether or not the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, at least within the confines of one’s own home. The majority settled on yes and the city’s handgun ban was declared unconstitutional.

The firearms storage law, which the case also struck down, was not limited to homes that had toddlers.

In fact, Heller himself didn’t have any young children running around his home. And, since handguns were completely banned, the storage law only applied to rifles and shotguns which are rarely involved in accidental or even intentional shootings.

Beyond the facts of the case, it was rather odd to hear Clinton attempt to argue Heller was really about toddlers for few other reasons.

For one, the well being of toddlers certainly didn’t come up when she made her original comments to a group of donors. But it’s also not a common argument among even the most aggressive gun control proponents, most of whom have moved on from Heller all together.

That last bit probably shouldn’t be too surprising though. In a way it makes sense that Clinton is willing to stand by, however bizarrely, her attack on Heller when even many of her allies may have walked it back.

After all, Clinton has commonly staked out gun control positions more aggressive than those of the leading gun control groups and much further left than any major party candidate in history.

A series of hacked emails show even Clinton’s own campaign believes as much and other Democrats are “freaking out” over that fact. Like many other Democrats, she’s for an “assault weapons” ban and wants to expand background checks to gun sales between private individuals.

But unlike many other Democrats, she’s called Australia’s mandatory gun buyback program a “good example” and something “worth considering” in the United States.

That’s more than enough to make gun owners skeptical of a Hillary Clinton presidency. At a time when gun sales have set records the last 17-straight-months and polls are seeing historic shifts in favor of gun rights, it should hurt her chances of being elected. Certainly her own campaign recognizes that as well.

Lucky for her she’s running against Donald Trump and most of the campaign has focused on his buffoonery instead of her gun control agenda.

The one meaningful exchange we’ve gotten during this election on guns sees Clinton stumble through an incoherent explanation of her opposition to the Supreme Court’s affirmation of basic gun rights and Trump rambles something about her being angry.

Apparently, he didn’t have any better grasp on the Heller decision than Hillary herself.

Then again, at least he didn’t propose a 72-hour waiting period for all gun purchases and an “assault weapons” ban as he has in the past, so his performance could’ve been worse.

Regardless, if Clinton wins, as it looks like she almost certainly will, gun owners can be sure they will have another adversary housed at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Filling the vacancy offered up by the passing of the justice who authored the Heller decision will likely only be the first in a long string of battles facing gun rights advocates. Better stock up on ammo.

Gutowski is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon who focuses on guns and gun control. He’s also a certified firearms instructor and enjoys building AR-15s in his spare time.”


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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