Hillary Clinton Slammed for Her Characterization of Supreme Court Gun Ruling
Her comments about the high court Heller case trouble 2nd Amendment advocates.
The topic arose at Wednesday night’s presidential debate during a discussion about issues the Supreme Court could tackle during the next administration, including the Second Amendment, which guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
Debate moderator Chris Wallace mentioned the Heller case, which was the high court’s 2008 ruling that residents of Washington, D.C., had the constitutional right to bear arms in their own home for self-defense, for instance, which negated a longtime firearm ban in the city.
Wallace also cited a 2015 audio recording of Clinton where she is heard saying "the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment," a reference to the Heller case.
During her remarks Wednesday night, Clinton touted her years spent in Arkansas and representing upstate New York as senator as proof of her support and "respect" for "the tradition of gun ownership," but then tuned to a specific aspect of the Heller decision.
"I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in that case because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns. And so they wanted people with guns to safely store them. And the court didn't accept that reasonable regulation, but they’ve accepted many others," she said.
Protecting children from access to guns inside the home came up as a question in the Supreme Court's discussion of the D.C. law, but the word "child" was mentioned only six times in the 110 pages of transcript of the court’s closed-door session, according to a review of the transcript.
Bob Owens, the editor of Second Amendment news site Bearing Arms, said Clinton's description inaccurately reflected the crux of the case.
"It's kind of like saying that ‘Fatal Attraction’ was about a woman's hatred of rabbits," Owens told ABC News, referencing the film's infamous bunny-boiling moment.
"Yes, that is a tiny part of the overall story, but it completely missed the main point," he said.
The Clinton campaign did not immediately return ABC News' request for comment or clarification.
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said Clinton "was wrong" in her description of the Heller decision.
"I think she's trying to confuse voters and distract them from her position, which is that the Supreme Court got it wrong on the Second Amendment," Baker told ABC News.
As the debate unfolded Wednesday night, the NRA released a new TV ad that included the 2015 audio of Clinton’s saying, "the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment." The NRA made a $5 million ad buy for the commercial and will play it on national cable and broadcast stations in battleground states through Oct. 31.
The late justice Antonin Scalia held the deciding vote in the Heller case, so the prospect of the next president’s being in a position to appoint a replacement who could tip the balance against the Heller decision is a frightening possibility, should Clinton win, the NRA’s Baker said.
"If that is overturned, it paves the way for extreme gun control at all levels of government, including gun bans," she added.
For his part, Donald Trump didn’t comment on the specifics of the Heller decision at the debate, but rather about Clinton's reported reaction to the ruling.
"Well, the D.C. vs. Heller decision was very strongly -- and she was extremely angry about it. I watched. I mean, she was very, very angry when upheld. And Justice Scalia was so involved,” Trump said. “And it was a well-crafted decision. But Hillary was extremely upset, extremely angry.”
Owens, of news site Bearing Arms, said Trump’s answer made it "hard for me to get a sense of what he knows there."
"He has a pattern of being so general in his responses that it's really difficult to gauge his understanding," Owens added.
The NRA’s Baker said she is not concerned about Trump's understanding of the case or what it would mean for legal gun owners.
"He's been the most outspoken unabashed supporter of the Second Amendment that's run for president in decades," she said of Trump.
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