Hillary Clinton curbs gun buy-back enthusiasm

hillary ugly

On Friday, Hillary Clinton momentarily let the mask slip and told us what we already knew, that she is in favor of mandatory confiscation of firearms along the model used by Australia in 1996 and 2003.

“Australia is a good example, Canada is a good example, the U.K. is a good example. Why? Because each of them have had mass killings” she said. “Australia had a huge mass killing about 20, 25 years ago, Canada did as well, so did the U.K. And, in reaction, they passed much stricter gun laws.”

Australia’s mandatory gun buyback program of semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns was enacted after a shooter killed 35 people in 1996. The country bought back more than 650,000 weapons.

“The Australian government, as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons, offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns,” Clinton said. “Then, they basically clamped down, going forward, in terms of having more of a background check approach, more of a permitting approach, but they believed, and I think the evidence supports them, that by offering to buyback those guns, they were able to curtail the supply and to set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.”

Clinton said such a gun buyback program “would be worth considering” federally, “if that could be arranged.” She compared it to President Barack Obama’s so-called “cash for clunkers” program, which bought back old cars with lower levels of energy efficiency in order to stimulate the economy and reduce pollution.

Earlier today, The American Prospect was wildly enthusing that finally a Democrat was standing up to the NRA and to the Constitution:

Naturally, the NRA responded with Hillary Clinton is coming to confiscate your guns!!!, just like they said that Barack Obama was coming to confiscate your guns, and Bill Clinton was coming to confiscate your guns (if you’re a gun owner, you may have noticed that the jackbooted government thugs have not yet kicked down your door). And for the record, there isn’t much evidence that the local gun buybacks that have occurred here in the U.S. have had much effect on levels of violence. But the remarkable thing is that Clinton feels comfortable talking about gun control and criticizing the NRA by name.

Does that mean that something has really changed in our political environment? Call me cynical, but I have trouble imagining that Clinton would make this kind of public appeal on guns without first having her team of pollsters test it thoroughly. We’ve known for a long time that specific gun measures are widely popular, particularly universal background checks, which get around 90 percent support in polls. But the assumption has always been that gun advocates are far more motivated than opponents of gun proliferation, and so they exercise an outsize influence and therefore need to be feared.

As Christopher Hitchens noted in his book about the Clintons, No One Left To Lie To, supporting the Clintons means you live a life of constant disappointment. The pollsters have weighed in and, at some point, political expediency overrode truth and today this afternoon the Clinton campaign walked back her comments:

While speaking with Andrea Mitchell, Jennifer Palmieri said Hillary Clinton does not support gun confiscation despite the Democrat presidential candidate telling a crowd on Friday Australian-style mandatory gun buybacks “would be worth considering doing it on the national level.”

“Finally a quick question on gun control because the nra on the weekend really went after her,” Mitchell said. “Was she suggesting in her town hall meetings in New Hampshire on Friday, which she said she would look into the Australian system, was she suggesting confiscation of guns?”

“Of course not,” Palmieri responded. “She was, what she was referring to is places where there have been mass shootings and the countries have done something. She has put forward a very common-sense proposal that would have background checks for everyone, that would remove the special protections the gun industry has from liability but it’s all very common-sense measures the majority of the public supports.”

When asked if Clinton supports gun buybacks Palmieri said yes but seemed to cite only voluntary gun buybacks in American cities instead of the mandatory buybacks in Australia. “Yes, a number of cities do do that,” she said. “It’s been effective.”

No one believes this change of position. Just like no one really believes any of the municipal gun buy back programs have accomplished anything. But what she has done that makes her campaign a lot easier is that she has, in her own words, taken all of rural America and current GOP states out of play and it has made holding PA, MI, OH, WI, etc. much, much harder.