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Clinton And Trump Face Off On The Matter Of Gun Violence


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News, I'm Michel Martin. We'll start the program with the gun debate which moved front and center in the presidential contest this weekend. On Friday, Donald Trump picked up the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. Last night, Hillary Clinton headlined an event hosted by the Trayvon Martin Foundation for mothers who've lost children to gun violence. Trayvon Martin was the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by the neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, four years ago. NPR's Sam Sanders was there, and he's with us from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Hi Sam. Thanks for joining us.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Of course. Thank you.

MARTIN: So what did Secretary Clinton talk about last night?

SANDERS: So the focus was on gun control. Clinton previously said that she is in favor of stricter background checks and holding gun dealers and manufacturers liable for crimes committed with their weapons. Some liberals don't think that she has gone far enough on these issues. But Clinton does favor much more gun control than Donald Trump, the apparent GOP nominee. And she spent some time last night to draw some sharp contrast with him.


HILLARY CLINTON: If you want to imagine what Trump's America will look like, picture more kids at risk of violence and bigotry. Picture more anger and fear. Ask any of the mothers here tonight if they want to live in that kind of America. Enough is enough.

SANDERS: So Clinton said that Trump plans to overturn Obama's actions to strengthen gun background checks. She also pointed to Trump saying that he would mandate guns back in America's schools and get rid of gun-free zones.

MARTIN: So let's talk about exactly what we've heard from Donald Trump about guns. As we mentioned, he was endorsed by the NRA on Friday. What's he been saying?

SANDERS: So when Trump spoke in front of the NRA last week, he said the Second Amendment is under attack and on the ballot this November. And he made some of those comments that Clinton mentioned.

Trump has also pushed back against Clinton. He said that Clinton is wrong when she says that Trump wants guns in schools. This morning, on Fox News he spoke more about that.


DONALD TRUMP: She talked about guns in classrooms. I don't want to have guns in classrooms. Although, in some cases, teachers should have guns in classrooms, frankly. If you look at some of our schools, unbelievable what's going on. But I'm not advocating guns in classrooms. But remember, in some cases - and a lot of people have made this case - teachers should be able to have guns.

SANDERS: Now, Trump did say that those teachers should be trained.

MARTIN: But, Sam, has - have Donald Trump's past positions on gun control been discussed though, in recent days? I mean, he - it's been noted that he previously supported a ban on assault rifles. He supported - once President Obama came out after the Sandy Hook shooting - he came out in support of what President Obama said. Did those past positions come up?

SANDERS: They've been mentioned in the media. You know, Trump has been inconsistent on guns at points. After Sandy Hook, Trump did say that he agreed with Obama's push to strengthen background checks. In his book in 2000, he favored a ban on assault weapons. But since Trump has been running he's taken a pretty consistent hardline in favor of gun rights.

MARTIN: Finally, Sam, before we let you go, there have been a number of big issues that seem to have been dominating the campaign to this point, like, trade, wages, immigration, national security. Do you have any sense of where the gun debate is going to fit into this moving forward?

SANDERS: So right now the polling suggests that gun control isn't the top priority for voters on either side, you know, compared to the things that you mentioned. But there is so much difference between Trump and Clinton on gun control that they can draw a very clear contrast and possibly use that to fire up their party bases.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Sam Sanders with us from Fort Lauderdale. Sam, thank you so much for speaking with us.

SANDERS: Thank you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.