Hillary Clinton Links Guns, Terrorism in Security Address

Clinton speaks about her counterterrorism strategy on Tuesday. Clinton speaks about her counterterrorism strategy on Tuesday. Charlie Neibergall / AP

After the San Bern­ardino at­tacks, Demo­crats were eager to talk about gun policy. Re­pub­lic­ans were eager to dis­cuss do­mest­ic ter­ror­ism. Hil­lary Clin­ton wants to the two top­ics in­to one con­ver­sa­tion.

At a coun­terter­ror­ism speech in Min­neapol­is Tues­day, Clin­ton cri­ti­cized Re­pub­lic­ans for re­fus­ing to make a con­nec­tion between ac­cess­ible guns and ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“I know that this will drive some of our Re­pub­lic­an friends a little crazy. … They will say that guns are a totally sep­ar­ate is­sue, they have noth­ing to do with ter­ror­ism,” Clin­ton said. “Well, I have news for them: Ter­ror­ists use guns to kill Amer­ic­ans, and I think we should make it harder for them to do that ever again.”

The former sec­ret­ary of State also called for ban­ning people on the no-fly list from pur­chas­ing guns in the United States, say­ing, “If you are too dan­ger­ous to fly, you are too dan­ger­ous to buy a gun—peri­od.”

The com­ments on gun con­trol came as part of Clin­ton’s five-part plan to fight homegrown ter­ror­ism and rad­ic­al­iz­a­tion. That plan, she said, in­volves work­ing to shut down IS­IS’s re­cruit­ment in the United States, par­tic­u­larly on­line; stop­ping po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists from train­ing over­seas and re­turn­ing to the United States; im­prov­ing in­tel­li­gence co­ordin­a­tion to dis­cov­er ter­ror­ist plots be­fore they hap­pen; sup­port­ing and train­ing loc­al law en­force­ment to deal with threats; and en­ga­ging the Muslim-Amer­ic­an com­munity in the pro­cess.

In de­scrib­ing the role of the pres­id­ent of the United States, Clin­ton said it’s largely about keep­ing Amer­ic­ans safe—from all threats, whatever form they take. “You see, I have this old-fash­ioned idea that we elect a pres­id­ent in part, in large part, to keep us safe: from ter­ror­ists, from gun vi­ol­ence … from whatever threatens our com­munit­ies,” she said.

The de­bate comes amid a mes­saging struggle between Clin­ton’s cam­paign and Re­pub­lic­ans in the wake of ter­ror at­tacks in Par­is and San Bern­ardino.

Re­pub­lic­ans have blamed de­cisions made by Pres­id­ent Obama and former Sec­ret­ary of State Clin­ton for IS­IS’s rise. Demo­crats, mean­while, have ac­cused Re­pub­lic­ans of lack­ing ser­i­ous plans to deal with the group—as well as high­light­ing anti-Muslim com­ments made by Don­ald Trump.

It’s a high-stakes fight. There has been a stark in­crease in the num­ber of voters who say ter­ror­ism and na­tion­al se­cur­ity top their list of is­sues in the 2016 cam­paign, even just in the last few weeks. A Gal­lup sur­vey re­leased Monday found that the per­cent­age of Amer­ic­an adults who name ter­ror­ism as the most im­port­ant is­sue fa­cing the coun­try has ris­en from 3 per­cent in Novem­ber to 16 per­cent in Decem­ber—an ex­po­nen­tial in­crease over the course of just one month. It’s now at its highest point since 2005, per Gal­lup data.

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