Transcript: Obama and Clinton Debate

ANNOUNCER: 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. Live from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, once again, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.

GIBSON: Back to the Philadelphia debate, the Democratic debate, just less than a week now before the Pennsylvania primary. And I would be remiss, tonight, if I didn't take note of the fact that today is the one-year anniversary of Virginia Tech. And I think it's fair to say that probably every American during this day at one point or another, said a small prayer for the great people of that university and for those who died.

It also, I suspect, makes this an appropriate time to talk about guns. And it has not been talked about much in this campaign. And it's an important issue in the state of Pennsylvania. Both of you, in the past, have supported strong gun control measures. But now, when I listen to you on the campaign, I hear you emphasizing that you believe in an individual's right to bear arms. Both of you were strong advocates for licensing of guns. Both of you were strong advocates for the registration of guns.

Why don't you emphasize that now, Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, Charlie, on Friday, I was with Mayor Nutter, who is here, in west Philadelphia, at the YMCA there, to talk about what we could do together to bring down the crime rate that has ravaged Philadelphia.

You know, more than one person, on average, a day is murdered in Philadelphia. And Mayor Nutter is very committed, as the mayor of this great city, to try to do what he can to stem the violence.

And what I said then is what I have been saying, that I will be a good partner for cities like Philadelphia as president, because I will bring back the COPS program, the so-called COPS program, where we had 100,000 police on the streets, which really helped drive down the crime rate and also helped create better community relations.

I will also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We had it during the 1990s. It really was an aid to our police officers, who are now, once again, because it has lapsed and the Republicans will not reinstate it, are being outgunned on our streets by these military-style weapons.

I will also work to make sure that police departments in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, across America, get access to the federal information that will enable them to track illegal guns. Because the numbers are astounding. Probably 80 percent of the guns used in gun crimes are in the hands of that criminal, that gang member, unfortunately people who are sometimes, you know, mentally challenged, because it got there illegally. And under the Republicans, that information was kept from local law enforcement.

So I believe that we can balance what I think is the right equation. I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns. But I also believe that most lawful gun owners, whom I have spoken with for many years across our country, also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands.

And as president, I will work to try to bridge this divide, which I think has been polarizing and, frankly, doesn't reflect the common sense of the American people.

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