Amid a push to tighten gun laws in America following the gruesome slaughter in Orlando this past weekend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered tough words for the gun lobby and mocking ones for her GOP opponent.
In a Wednesday interview with The Huffington Post, Clinton argued that she and others had essentially forced Donald Trump to consider legislation that would prevent those on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy firearms. Trump said earlier in the day that he planned to meet with the National Rifle Association to discuss its opposition to the proposal.
"Welcome to the cause," said Clinton. "This is something I've been talking about for a long time. Look, the NRA and the other gun lobby members should be moving rapidly to work with Congress on this legislation. I know members of Congress, hopefully on both sides of the aisle, are beginning to look to see if they can pass this. And I fully support it."
The proposal is not without controversy, however, and not just among gun rights advocates. Civil libertarians have expressed concern that the terrorist watch list is too broad -- and includes many who don't belong on it -- and shouldn't be used to deny individuals their constitutional rights.
Clinton called that argument a "rhetorical trap that the gun lobby tries to set, basically claiming if you can't stop every shooting, every incident, you shouldn't try to stop any." She said the proposal was "common sense," adding that "the idea that this would impact law-abiding gun owners is wrong and it is intended to serve as a distraction." If there were due process concerns, she said, they could be adjudicated and taken into account on a case-by-case basis.
The proposal for tighter gun restrictions was one of several that Clinton touted as a comprehensive response to the Orlando shooting, which left 50 people dead and dozens injured. She also called for the establishment of a SWAT team dedicated to detecting and preventing lone wolf terror attacks, fusion centers to integrate information among law enforcement agencies, better communication between intelligence professionals and law enforcement officials, and closer collaboration with tech companies.
Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering this country would be both "counterproductive" and "dangerous," Clinton stated.
"That just plays into ISIS's hand. You know, part of the radical jihadist recruitment strategy is to convince would-be recruits here at home and around the world that there is a clash of civilizations," she said. "I think most Americans really do understand that."
Clinton was far more circumspect about another controversial counterterrorism measure. To date, President Barack Obama has authorized more than 500 drone strikes, killing an estimated 400 civilians along with more than 3,000 terrorists. It is widely reported that these casualties have served as a recruitment tool for terrorist groups. But Clinton didn't give much -- if any -- indication of how she'd tailor the program, save to say she would keep it intact in some form.
"This is a complex issue that we have to understand in a comprehensive way," Clinton said. "There is no doubt that, as the president said in his remarks yesterday, the United States and our allies have taken thousands of terrorists off the battlefield across the world. Many different tools have been used to accomplish that. Many lives have been saved because of that policy. … We will use every single tool at our disposal."