Possibly the most peculiar aspect of National Journal’s coverage of this all-too-typical communication from Hillary Clinton is that it starts with the following:
Hillary Clinton has mostly steered clear of contentious domestic political issues in recent years…
It expands on this a few paragraphs later:
When she ran for president in 2008, Clinton spoke about the need for “balance” in gun laws, but she has been able to avoid the issue since it dominated the national political debate after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in late 2012. She was secretary of State at the time of the massacre, a position that kept her out of domestic politics.
So we know this is going to be a puff piece. Technically, the wording may be correct. But it ignores completely two (or even three) major gun-related issues from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. And it seems to suggest that she hasn’t had to address the topic of guns since 2008, when she found it profitable to take Obama to task for his “bitter clinger” remarks, and depicted herself as a junior gun-woman, learning to shoot under her grandfather’s tutelage, and then, during her time as a first lady in Arkansas, “shooting ducks.”
Clearly, when we hear what Hillary has just had to say about guns this week, we’re supposed to imagine her coming off a long strategic silence on the topic. Here’s what she said, at a National Council for Behavioral Health conference:
“I think again we’re way out of balance. We’ve got to rein in what has become almost an article of faith that almost anybody can have a gun anywhere at any time. And I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.”…
She referred to recent high-profile incidents of minor disputes in movie theaters or parking lots that escalated into lethal shootings, saying, “That’s what happens in the countries I’ve visited that have no rule of law.”
She decried new laws proliferating across the country that allow people to carry weapons in churches, bars, and other public places, saying that they will only lead to more deadly violence that could otherwise be avoided. “At the rate we’re going, we’re going to have so many people with guns,” she continued, “in settings where … [they] decide they have a perfect right to defend themselves against the gum chewer or the cell-phone talker.”
National Journal goes on immediately to mention that Clinton spoke about suicide as well:
At the conference of mental health professionals, Clinton also spoke personally about suicide, saying she has known several people who took their own lives. She referred, but not by name, to Vince Foster, the Clinton White House lawyer whose suicide sparked right-wing conspiracy theories, saying she wishes she and others around him had been better able to spot warning signs.
Not that the writer is trying to imply that suicide is related to gun ownership, I’m sure.
Lies, damn lies, and Gunwalker
As a reminder, one of Silent Hillary’s first actions as secretary of state was to go to Mexico and proclaim – falsely – that 90% of the guns used in drug crimes south of the border come from the United States. This bogus “statistic” was promptly debunked, but Clinton and Obama continued to use it.
Clinton’s willingness to tout falsified statistics rendered her posture suspect (along with the administration’s) when Operation Fast & Furious was uncovered, and it became widely known that the Obama administration had “walked” guns by the hundreds into the hands of cartel criminals, without coordinating the operation with Mexico, and without following up to track the guns. The House investigation of Fast & Furious naturally focused on the Justice Department, which ran the operation. The investigation has long been stymied by Obama’s invocation of executive privilege. But in October of 2011, Hillary Clinton did testify before the House on at least some of what the State Department knew about Fast & Furious.
UN Arms Trade Treaty
Another major issue from her tenure at Foggy Bottom was, of course, the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which is intended to restrict the flow of small arms throughout the world, within nations as well as across borders. Hillary and Obama were credited with resurrecting the dormant treaty at the UN in 2009, when they offered U.S. backing for a re-launch of talks on the treaty, as long as the basis for moving forward was consensus by all parties.
The treaty’s fortunes were coming to a head in the summer of 2012, only months before the 2012 election, which was not good timing politically. With the Senate urging Obama against any agreement, he and Hillary decided to stall the treaty until after the election.
Hillary thus dodged a bullet. Although she had been responsible for resurrecting the treaty as a U.S. priority, she didn’t have to have her name on its passage in the UN or be photographed signing it. Those tasks fell to John Kerry. Notably, on his watch, the U.S. dropped the requirement for full consensus on the treaty as a condition for its passage in the General Assembly. It was therefore adopted with a number of nations opposing it or abstaining (the latter including Russia, China, and India). The treaty is thus meaningless, except insofar as it may be applied by the government of the United States to its own people. Kerry signed it in September 2013.
Benghazi arms bazaar
The third major issue with a guns connection from Hillary’s tenure is, of course, Benghazi. Reports have persistently indicated that the main activity of the U.S. missions in Benghazi was handling the movement of small arms, whether the purpose was to collect them and remove them from Libya – i.e., to keep them out of the hands of local insurgents and terrorists – or more ominously to funnel them to the civil war in Syria. Hillary would have had full knowledge of whatever was going on.
But that’s not the only noteworthy connection of “guns” with Benghazi. There’s also the revelation – briefly a sensation in the aftermath of the attack on 9-11-12 – that on order of the State Department, the contract guards at the U.S. facility where Ambassador Chris Stevens was attacked were not allowed to carry loaded weapons. By September of 2012, of course, Stevens was lucky to still have security at all, in spite of his repeated appeals to Hillary Clinton for security improvements.
So, maybe they’re easily hoodwinked over there at the National Journal. But for anyone who’s paid attention, Hillary Clinton’s message on guns has been loud and clear in the last five years. Her most recent comments fit the same old trend.