Hillary Clinton spoke forcefully about race and violence on Saturday in a speech in which the presidential contender tried to address some of the most difficult issues facing the country after the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C. Clinton called for “common sense” gun reform to help prevent another mass shooting. “It makes no sense that bipartisan legislation for universal background checks would fail despite overwhelming public support,” Clinton said at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.
“I lived in Arkansas and I represented upstate New York. I know that gun ownership is part of the fabric of a lot of law abiding communities,” Clinton said, according to CNN. “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.”
The presidential hopeful spoke extensively about the mass shooting and praised the families who allegedly said they forgave the 21-year-old suspect, Dylann Roof. “In its way, their act of mercy was as stunning as his act of cruelty,” she said.
The mass shooting in South Carolina though is not just about availability of guns, Clinton said as she called on the country to confront the racism that persists across society. “It’s tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this as an isolated incident, to believe that in today’s America bigotry is largely behind us, that institutionalized racism no longer exists,” she said.
“Despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished,” Clinton said, according to the Washington Post. “I know this is a difficult topic to talk about. I know that so many of us hoped by electing our first black president, we had turned the page on this chapter in our history. I know there are truths we do not like to say out loud or discus with our children. But we have to.”
Although several presidential contenders have spoken out on the mass shooting they “have been less willing to cast it as an example of broader racial injustice,” notes the Wall Street Journal.
Clinton’s words do not just help her differentiate herself from the Republican candidates but can also help her gain an upper hand on Bernie Sanders. “Mr. Sanders, a socialist from Vermont also seeking the Democratic nomination, has a decidedly mixed record on gun control, which may pose problems for his campaign as it seeks to bill itself as a more liberal alternative to Mrs. Clinton,” notes the New York Times.