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POLITICS: Campaigns

Does Hillary Clinton's call for gun control mean she's scared of a primary challenger from the Left?

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Michael Barone,Gun Control,Hillary Clinton,2016 Elections,Campaigns,Bill de Blasio,Elizabeth Warren

Hillary Clinton's May 6 speech, as reported in Politico and followed by up Breitbart here and here, featured a call for additional gun control laws.

“We have to rein in what has become [an] almost article of faith, that anybody can own a gun anywhere, anytime. And I don’t believe that,” she said, as applause drowned her out. Clinton, who argued it was possible to hold her position and still support the right to gun ownership, warned that unfettered access to guns could have dangerous consequences. She called the country’s approach to guns “way out of balance” and referred to cases in which gun violence has erupted over minor issues.

She painted a dark picture, warning that, “At the rate we’re going, we’re going to have so many people with guns everywhere, fully licensed, fully validated, in settings where [one] could be in a movie theater, and they don’t like someone chewing gum loudly or talking on their cell phone and decide they have the perfect right to defend themselves against the gum chewer or cell phone user by shooting.”

Clinton continued, “That’s what happens in the countries I’ve visited where there’s no rule of law.”

One thing that’s fascinating here is how out of touch Clinton is with real life conditions in America. How many shootouts and homicides have been sparked by the 9 million Americans who have permits to carry concealed weapons? Pretty much zero, so far as I can tell. Certainly the hostile-to-guns mainstream media would be front-paging such incidents if they occurred. And is the United States a country "where there's no rule of law"?

The other thing that's fascinating is that Clinton is apparently thinking more about Democratic primary voters than about general election voters. Talking about more gun control measures works against Democratic presidential nominees, putting out of reach states that Bill Clinton carried in 1992 and/or 1996. But Democratic primary voters are strongly pro-gun control. As I noted in my most recent Washington Examiner column, left-wing Democrats “are getting restive,” as right-wing Republicans did in the last years of the George W. Bush presidency and the first years of Barack Obama's. As I wrote, “Evidence includes the election of New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, the talk of an Elizabeth Warren presidential candidacy, billionaire Tom Steyer's $100 million crusade against the Keystone XL pipeline.” To which you could add, Hillary Clinton's decision -- she certainly didn't decide to do this off the top of her head, did she? -- to court liberal Democrats by calling for more gun control.

My conclusion: Despite her strong primary poll numbers, Clinton is worried about the potential of a left-wing candidate appealing to Democrats who are angry that the Obama administration hasn’t gone farther left and don’t at all hanker for the triangulating of Bill Clinton’s administration. There was similar discontent then, registered in the 3 percent of the vote cast for Ralph Nader, which arguably cost Al Gore the election. Left-wingers may not want to reprise the Nader example, but it’s not as searing a memory as it was four, eight and 12 years ago. And they may be looking out for a true believer to support against Clinton. Evidently she thinks so.

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