Donald Trump suggests '2nd Amendment people' can stop Hillary Clinton
Clinton campaign quickly excoriates Trump for suggesting 'violence'
Donald Trump repeated his claim at a campaign rally Tuesday that Hillary Clinton is in favour of abolishing the Second Amendment, but then added a provocative statement regarding gun rights advocates.
"If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks," Trump said at the rally in Wilmington, N.C. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."
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The implication was clear to the Clinton campaign, which responded with a statement within the hour: "This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to [be the] president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."
Trump's campaign released a statement on "dishonest media" rejecting that interpretation.
"[Second] Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won't be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump," said Jason Miller, senior communications adviser for Trump.
Within the Trask Coliseum, a man seated behind Trump on stage reacted in surprise, his mouth popping open. The man turned to the woman beside him, who was chuckling.
When an interviewer from WNCN, a North Carolina CBS affiliate, asked if the comments were condoning violence, Trump said, "Oh no, no. This was political power."
At a rally hours later in Fayetteville, Trump said the Second Amendment was "under siege," but refrained from any further suggestion.
Catherine Milhoan, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, said, "We are aware of his comments." She declined to answer any additional questions about Trump's remarks.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat and a leading advocate for stronger gun safety laws, called Trump's comments "disgusting and embarrassing and sad."
"This isn't play," Murphy wrote on Twitter. "Unstable people with powerful guns and an unhinged hatred for Hillary are listening to you, @realDonaldTrump."
Gabrielle Giffords, the former U.S. congresswoman who barely survived a 2011 shooting in her district that killed six others, condemned the comments in the strongest terms.
"Responsible, stable individuals won't take Trump's rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed," said Giffords in a joint statement with her husband, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.
Supreme Court vacancy
The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
A 2008 Supreme Court ruling upheld an individual's right to bear arms, with the majority opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia.
When Scalia died in February, Republicans in Congress indicated they wouldn't approve any justice nominated by President Barack Obama, arguing that the power should reside with the next president. As a result, there are currently eight Supreme Court justices and the election will be pivotal in determining the future composition of the court.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump">@RealDonaldTrump</a> is right. If <a href="https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton">@HillaryClinton</a> gets to pick her anti-<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/2A?src=hash">#2A</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SCOTUS?src=hash">#SCOTUS</a> judges, there’s nothing we can do. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NeverHillary?src=hash">#NeverHillary</a>—@NRA
Clinton has positioned herself as an opponent of the gun lobby, and has stated that any constitutional amendment should be "subject to reasonable regulations." Her campaign website indicates her desire to close loopholes on gun show and internet sales that don't require background checks, and for keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and those convicted of crimes of violence or domestic abuse.
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Trump's comments in Wilmington come a day after 50 prominent Republican national security officials released an unprecedented statement regarding the nominee, predicting he'd be "the most reckless president in American history."
"Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be president. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary," the statement read.
Among those signing on were Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and Michael Chertoff, once the head of Homeland Security.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump">@realDonaldTrump</a> makes death threats because he's a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.—@elizabethforma
The comments took place in a state that has gone Republican in presidential elections on all but two occasions since 1968, with current polls indicating it is a swing state for November.
Following reports that Russia hacked Democratic Party emails, Trump said in late July he'd like to see Moscow find emails Clinton deleted from the account she used as secretary of state. Trump insisted soon after he was being sarcastic.
- An earlier version indicated North Carolina has only gone to the Democrats once in presidential elections since 1968. In fact, the state's electoral college went to the Democratic candidate in 1976 and 2008.Aug 09, 2016 6:05 PM ET
With files from Reuters and The Associated Press