Former President Bill Clinton, who signed an assault weapons ban that lasted for 10 years, said Wednesday that reform supporters can win new firearms-safety measures by watching their tone with gun enthusiasts. (Watch the video below.)
Clinton explained on “The Late Late Show” that an overwhelming majority of people support sensible reform, “but the gun culture itself is sufficiently strong that there are more people who are against doing something than for it, if it’s a voting issue. A lot of gun owners are inherently suspicious of government, easy to spook, and don’t want to take a chance.”
Browbeating the fearful won’t help, Clinton told host James Corden.
Clinton noted that he grew up in gun culture in Arkansas, still owns a hunting rifle and used to belong to the National Rifle Association — “when they cared about resolving real issues.”
Americans who fear laws will strip them of personal or hunting firearms merit respect, he said.
“Don’t talk down to them,” Clinton said. “Instead of telling them they’re dumb if they don’t agree with you, ask for their help. ... It’s not necessary for somebody to agree with you to trust you with their vote.”
Recent mass shootings in New York and Texas have made the issue boil over again, prompting the Senate to work on a bipartisan framework to curb the violence. But convincing the skeptical requires understanding, according to Clinton.
“We gotta reach people where they live,” the former president said.