Hillary Clinton’s response to questions regarding gun policy during Wednesday night’s presidential debate became the subject of intense scrutiny by both sides of the polarizing issue.
Gun groups and pundits argued over the accuracy of her response regarding past criticism of a landmark Supreme Court case that expanded gun rights as undoing a law designed to keep “toddlers” safe.
During this campaign season, Clinton said the High Court was wrong in its decision for the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller.
“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,” she said, adding that Heller was about wanting “people with guns to safely store them.”
On social media, the NRA pounced, saying Clinton’s inclusion of toddlers was a lie and the decision was about the right to defend oneself with a gun in his or her home.
Other conservatives piled on as well. Sean Davis, the co-founder of the right-leaning online magazine The Federalist, said, “It’s a lie so absurd that I honestly don’t know where to begin.” He pointed out that the word “toddler” does not appear anywhere in the 110-page transcript of the case’s oral arguments.
However, a search for “child” yields results. Namely a quote from Chief Justice Roberts that seems to point to Clinton’s intent when she brought up toddlers.
“Well, there is always a risk that the children will get up and grab the firearm and use it for some purpose other than what the Second Amendment was designed to protect,” said Roberts during the oral arguments in Heller.
Progressive website Media Matters slammed the NRA, saying it doesn’t know what’s in Heller. The article points to Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent, which talked about accidental gun related deaths involving children seven times.
An Associated Press fact check said Clinton “mis-states high court ruling on guns” because “the main holding in that case was far broader: that individuals have a right to own guns, at least in their homes and for self-defense.”
“The case marked the first time the court said that individuals have a Second Amendment right to own a gun,” the AP reported, adding the decision struck down Washington’s ban on handgun ownership as well as a separate requirement that people who own guns secure them with either a trigger lock or disassembled.
Yet, fact checker Politifact rated Clinton’s characterization of the case as “half true” since city leaders cited dangers posed to children as the rationale for introducing the law that was challenged. However, the regulations were also a widespread ban on unregistered weapons, so gun safety measures weren’t the only issue.
Another point of contention for onlookers was Clinton’s assertion that “33,000 people a year” die from guns.
Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, the Washington Post pointed out that nearly 34,000 people died from firearms in 2013 in the U.S., but clarified that “more than 60 percent were from suicides, not gun violence.”
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence took issue with the Washington Post’s distinction, arguing on social media that “suicides are indeed gun violence.”
After the debate, Brady Campaign President Dan Gross lauded Clinton’s debate remarks.
“Hillary Clinton is the leader America can count on to fight for and pass reforms that saves lives,” said Gross. “Gun violence is not a partisan issue. It’s an American crisis, and tonight is ironclad proof that this nation is ready for the solutions she backs.”
Before the debate, the NRA released an ad that painted Clinton as a liar.
“Hillary will lie about anything to get elected,” says the commercial’s narrator. “No more lies. Defeat Hillary.”