Oops! Chelsea shot off her mouth on guns, and now Hillary has to pander – and fails
Hillary Clinton has been eagerly exploiting the only progressive issue on which she can position herself to the left of Bernie Sanders. Coming from a largely rural state, Sanders had the sense to respect his constituents’ need for protection and preference for hunting. Hillary made clear in campaigning for the New York primary, where she dealt what could be the deathblow to the Sanders insurgency, that her aim on campaigning on guns was Sanders:
"Here's what I want you to know," Clinton told the audience, according to CBS News. "Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state. And the state that has the highest per capita number of those guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from Vermont.
Leaving aside the dubious truth of her claim (which garnered three Pinnochios from the Washington Post’s fact-checker), at least it was targeted at Sanders, and focused on crime and violence more than gun ownership per se. In other words, Hillary was leaving the door open for a strategic retreat from an assault on the Second Amendment in the general election, once Sanders had been vanquished. This is because Democrats have learned the hard way that making gun ownership an issue in national elections drives up GOP turnout, and turns gun owners who might otherwise vote Democrat into Republican voters.
But daughter Chelsea has no such political smarts, and on Thursday let the cat out of the bag. As John Sexton noted:
“It matters to me that my mom also recognizes the role the Supreme Court has when it comes to gun control,” Chelsea said at an appearance in Maryland Thursday. “With Justice Scalia on the bench one of the few areas where the Court actually had an inconsistent record relates to gun control,” she added.
“Sometimes the court upheld local and state gun control measures as being compliant with the second amendment and sometimes the court struck them down. So if you listen to Moms Demand Action and the Brady Campaign and major efforts pushing for smart, sensible and enforceable gun control across our country–which in disclosure have endorsed my mom–they say they believe the next time the court rules on gun control it will make a definitive ruling.
“So it matters to me that my mom is the only person running for president who not only constantly makes that connection but also has a strong record on gun control and standing up to the NRA,” Chelsea added.
She also said that her personal concern about gun control has increased since having a child, saying of the families of victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, “I can’t even imagine that living horror and tragedy.” Video of the statement was published by the Free Beacon:
The unmistakable signal Chelsea sent was that her mother will capitalize on the death of Scalia (interesting, isn’t it, that Chelsea presumes Obama’s effort to appoint a successor will come to naught) and appoint a justice who will finally gut the Second Amendment in a “definitive ruling.”
Currently running in Pennsylvania, a state with enough gun owners to swing an election, Hillary was forced into an awkward pander:
“I want to be really clear about this, because I learned how to shoot a gun behind our cottage in Lake Winola,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And I know how important gun ownership and particularly hunting is here in northeastern Pennsylvania.”
“I want you to know that we can’t ignore the Second Amendment, and we can’t ignore that 33,000 people a year die from gun violence,” she said. “I think we are smart enough to figure out how to do that.”
Twitter exploded in reaction, with many people pointing out that the Second Amendment is not about hunting.
But Chelsea’s comment, on video, is a bell that can’t be un-rung. No matter how quickly Hillary moves to quiet concern over her anti-gun ownership predilections, Chelsea has made it clear that a Hillary presidency will lead to a Supreme Court that will hold there is no individual right to own guns.
Update: Despite (or because of?) her educational pedigree from Stanford and Oxford, Chelsea can be a real dope when she opines on subjects with the self-assurance borne of privilege. The great John Hinderaker of Powerline eviscerates her analysis of SCOTUS decisions on the Second Amendment:
Chelsea’s comment is stupid. (Normally I wouldn’t criticize a family member of a candidate, but Chelsea is an adult and Hillary sent her out on the trail as a surrogate.) The idea that upholding some gun control measures while invalidating others is “inconsistent” betrays a profound lack of understanding of the law and the Constitution. To point out the obvious, the Supreme Court has similarly upheld some restrictions on speech as constitutional, while finding that others violate the First Amendment. And it has found some searches and seizures to be legal under the Fourth Amendment, while others are unconstitutional. This is not inconsistent, it is what courts do.