Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Alex Wong | Getty Images)
Igniting a new controversy, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said that gun rights activists could stop Hillary Clinton from winning the polls and picking new Supreme Court judges, a remark strongly criticized as a threat of violence against his Democratic rival, writes Lalit K. Jha. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #HillaryClinton #DonaldTrump #Trump #Hillary #AmericaVotes #USPresidentialElections2016
“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Though the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump said at an election rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, Aug. 9.
The U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear firearms.
Trump’s comments were interpreted by many as a threat of violence against his Democratic rival with Clinton campaign decrying the remark as “dangerous.”
“This is simple—what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, in the statement.
Trump, however, defended his comments, insisting that he was asking his supporters to use the power of their vote to stop Clinton from appointing justices who could restrict their Second Amendment rights.
He claimed that the support for Second Amendment is a “strong powerful movement” and dismissed any other interpretation of his comments.
“This is a political movement. This is a strong, powerful movement, the Second Amendment. And there can be no other interpretation. Even reporters have told me. I mean, give me a break,” Trump told Fox News.
Trump’s “Second Amendment” remarks was criticized by several lawmakers, former national security officials and media.
Michael Hayden, a former CIA director who was among 50 Republican national security experts to denounce Trump in a letter, told CNN, “If someone else had said that outside the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.”
“You are not just responsible for what you say. You are responsible for what people hear,” he said.
Senator Chris Murphy in a series of tweets alleged that Trump had given an “assassination threat” to Clinton.
“Don’t treat this as a political misstep. It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy and crisis,” Murphy said.
Indian American Congressman Ami Bera also strongly condemned the statement.
“Trump’s #2A comments are deeply concerning. It’s time for all of us to condemn these types of statements,” Bera said in a tweet.
Two major newspapers The Washington Post and The New York Times slammed Trump for his remarks in their lead editorials.
In its editorial, The Washington Post asked Republican Party to dump Trump.
“If Trump were not a major-party presidential nominee, his comment yesterday might have earned him a stern visit from the Secret Service. Instead, it will simply be added to the ever-growing list of Trump’s disqualifiers and to the ever-growing burden of Republican leaders who continue to insist that their candidate is suitable to serve,” the editorial said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said it sounds like a joke gone bad.
“It sounds like a joke gone bad. You should never joke about that. I hope he clears it up quickly,” Ryan said at a news conference in Wisconsin.
Several of Trump’s supporters came out in his defense.
“What he said very clearly was that if Hillary Clinton was elected president, she would get to appoint judges to the Supreme Court, and among the other things that they would do to destroy us, would be to do away with the Second Amendment and your right to bear arms,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said at an election rally later in the night.
“Now, is there anybody here that doubts that. And then he said, and you have the power to do something about it. And what he meant by that was you have the power to vote against her. You have the power to campaign against her. You have the power to speak against her. You know why, because you’re Americans,” Giuliani said.
Trump has repeatedly suggested that Clinton will “abolish” the Second Amendment.
Clinton has called for additional gun regulations and safety checks to curb the number of deadly gun shootings in the nation.
Trump has vowed not to further restrict gun purchases, and earned the endorsement of the National Rifle Association lobby.