Hillary Clinton Weighs in on Gun Tax, Stops Short of Endorsement

PHOTO: Hillary Clinton speaks at the home of Nathan Smith during a campaign stop in Fort Mitchell, Ky., May 15, 2016.PlayAndrew Harnik/AP Photo
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On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’ "This Week" that "the American public has a right to require certain kinds of regulatory responsible actions to protect everyone else" from gun violence.

But just how far would a Clinton administration go to ensure that?

Back in September 1993 at a Senate Finance Committee hearing, the then-first lady was asked by then-Sen. Bill Bradley whether she would support a 25 percent sales tax on handguns and automatic weapons. Her support was unequivocal.

"I'm all for that. I just don't know what else we're going to do to try to figure out how to get some handle on this violence," Clinton said. “I'm speaking personally, but I feel very strongly about that."

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On Sunday, Stephanopoulos asked Clinton whether she still believes in the idea. Although she stopped short of adding it to her campaign promises, saying, “I’m not going to commit to any specific proposal,” she nonetheless issued a comprehensive defense of the policy, suggesting potential revenue from a gun tax could help cover the medical and law enforcement costs of gun violence.

"What I was saying back then was that we have a lot of public health costs that taxpayers end up paying for through Medicaid, Medicare, through uncompensated care,” Clinton said, “because that was in the context of the push for health care reform and that we needed some way to try to defray those costs."

But her arguments go beyond the context of 1993, Clinton clarified, invoking several survivors of the San Bernardino attack she said she met Friday, “who were cowering in abject terror by the terrorist's unbelievable assault on their co-workers,” during the incident last December.

"When you have mass shootings, you not only have the terrible deaths, you have people who are injured," Clinton said. "What they talked to me about was, where do they get the financial support to deal with both the physical and the emotional trauma. You know, is it a workman's comp support, which is one of the arguments? Is it private insurance, Is it because they work for the county, something the county should pay for?"

"There are real costs that people incur because of the terrible gun violence epidemic. And we have to deal with it," she added.

While the former Secretary of State nonetheless stated that she is "not committed to anything" beyond those proposals that her campaign has already articulated, she said, “I do want people to ask themselves, can't we do better than to have 33,000 people killed every year by guns and many thousands more injured? And I think we can.”

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