Answering the question about race relations in the U.S. during Monday’s presidential debate, Hillary Clinton identified gun control as a solution to prevent gun violence perpetrated against black men while her opponent, Donald Trump, characterized stop and frisk as a means to maintain “law and order” in minority communities.
Both candidates agreed that blacks are subjected to higher rates of violence than others in the U.S., but adopted very different solutions and attitudes to address the issue in their remarks.
Clinton described systemic racism as eroding trust between black communities and law enforcement. She called for criminal justice reform to improve police training and tactics, launching initiatives to restore trust in the system, and doing away with mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes.
“And we’ve got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. The gun epidemic is the leading cause of death of young African-American men,” she said, adding gun violence “is a big contributor to a lot of the problems that we’re seeing today.”
She pointed to her platform advocating an assault weapons ban, expanded background checks, and prohibiting those on a terror watchlist from buying guns. Acknowledging the vast drop in crime from the mid-1990s, she said her aim is to keep the crime rate from gaining.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the rate of violent crime is 3.1 percent, meaning 372.6 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, which is still lower than five and 10 years ago. In 2015, firearms were used in 71.5 percent of the nation’s murders, 40.8 percent of robberies, and 24.2 percent of aggravated assaults.
Trump stressed “law and order” as necessary for restoring safety in minority communities and pointed to stop and frisk, a controversial measure that allows law enforcement officers to search individuals with little to no probable cause. He had been advocating the procedure in weeks leading up to the debate.
“(Stop and frisk) worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down, but you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn’t be having it,” Trump said. “We have gangs roaming the street and in many cases they’re illegally here — illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. We have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant.”
When reminded that the city’s stop and frisk policy was ruled unconstitutional because it largely singled out black and Hispanic men and encouraged racial profiling, Trump denied the merits of the ruling. “They would’ve won on appeal,” he said.
Looking at performance overall, 62 percent of respondents to a poll by CNN, which hosted the debate, saw Clinton as giving the stronger performance.