Hillary Clinton: Gun Violence Is A National Emergency

"It's long past time to say enough," she said while receiving an award from the Brady Center. "It's time to act."

NEW YORK ― Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called gun violence a “national emergency” and urged the public not to give up hope that the gun lobby can be defeated.

Clinton made her comments Tuesday evening as she was awarded the inaugural Mario M. Cuomo Visionary Award by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence for her efforts to stop gun violence.   

“There’s no way to think about it other than it’s a profound failure of our laws and our politics,” Clinton said. “It’s claimed too many lives and ripped apart too many families and communities. It’s long past time to say enough. Enough talk, enough delay. It’s time to act.”

She reminisced about the day President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law, saying it was one of the proudest moments in his presidency. 

“Please, don’t give in to frustration, disappointment, or just giving up,” she said. “The politics are hard and the politics are complicated, but we can do this.”

Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said that he believed the country is currently at a tipping point. “We are on the precipice, finally, of enormous change,” he said. “I believe that it’s fair to say that there is nobody who has done more to lead us there than Hillary Clinton.”

Clinton, who is in the midst of her second presidential bid, has made gun control a core component of her campaign.

In the wake of a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon that killed nine people, the former secretary of state called for a “national movement” to stand up to the National Rifle Association. “I’m sick about it, and I feel an absolute urgency for this country to start being sensible about keeping guns away from people who should not have them,” Clinton said at the time.

Days later, she released an aggressive plan to address gun violence. Among her proposals was a vow to take administrative action to close the so-called “gun-show loophole” if Congress fails to do so.

Under federal law, licensed gun dealers are mandated to conduct criminal background checks to identify those who are prohibited from owning guns. But in many states, individuals can skirt background checks by purchasing through private sellers or online.

Clinton’s proposal would alter the definition of who qualifies as a gun dealer. Private sellers who are trying to sell a “significant number of guns” would be deemed in the business of selling firearms, and would be required to perform background checks.

Expanding background checks to cover all gun sales has overwhelming support among the public and among gun owners. In fact, a new survey of gun owners found that 83 percent support universal background checks ― and even 72 percent of NRA members back them.

There’s also some evidence that expanding background checks could help reduce mass shootingsAn analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, found that states that require background checks for all handgun sales have significantly fewer mass shootings than states without them.

Above: The Clinton campaign released an ad earlier this month highlighting her support of gun control measures.

Clinton has also called for legislation to stop domestic abusers from buying and possessing firearms. Under federal law, convicted abusers are already not allowed to own or buy guns. But the law generally doesn’t apply to dating partners or convicted stalkers -- a gap that domestic violence experts have called deadly.

About three women are killed in domestic violence homicides in the U.S. every day. Experts believe that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered by her abuser. Over half of all women killed by intimate partners between 2001 to 2012 were killed using a gun, according to the Center for American Progress.

Clinton also had said she would lead the charge to repeal a law that shields gun manufacturers from legal liability -- legislation that rival presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted for in 2005 as a congressman.