Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton vowed to fight for “common sense” gun reform and a stronger relationship between the federal government and U.S. cities Saturday in a speech before hundreds of mayors.
In her address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Clinton spoke unflinchingly about race, the church shooting in Charleston, S.C. The event was organized by the group’s outgoing president, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and she lauded Johnson’s push to make cities a hub for technological innovation and industry in his Cities 3.0 initiative.
“That’s what we need more of in America,” Clinton said. “We need to reimagine the relationship between the federal government and our metropolitan areas.”
Clinton, who was in Charleston hours before 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine black congregants during Bible study at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, said her “heart is bursting” for the victims, “for a wounded community and a wounded church, for our country struggling once again to make sense of violence that is fundamentally senseless and a history we desperately want to leave behind.”
She backed President Barack Obama’s call for stricter gun regulations and promised to push to change the nation’s gun laws.
“You can’t watch massacre after massacre and not come to the conclusion that, as President Obama said, we must tackle this challenge with urgency and conviction,” she said. “I lived in Arkansas, I lived in upstate New York, I know that gun ownership is part of the fabric of a lot of law-abiding communities, but I also know that we can have common-sense gun reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable while respecting responsible gun owners.”
Clinton went into specifics, which Obama did not in his address to the mayors group Friday. She called for more stringent and universal background checks as a requirement for gun ownership.
Clinton, who has been accused of being tone-deaf about her own class and privilege, said she “didn’t choose” her family, race or opportunities. She encouraged the mayors in the room to foster dialogue in their communities about race and inequality.
“Race remains a deep fault line in America,” she said. “We need to be cities, states and a country that’s too busy to hate.”