It is a perennial wedge issue in national politics, and once again gun control is front and center during the presidential campaign.
During a rally for Hillary Clinton at Democratic Campaign Headquarters in downtown Carlisle Wednesday afternoon, Chelsea Clinton called the issue central to her mother’s campaign.
“It matters to me that she takes on fights that aren’t really popular,” Clinton said, giving a nod to three women in the front row wearing T-shirts for the gun control group Moms Demand Action. “... Gun control is one of the issues I didn’t know I could care anymore about until I became a parent.”
More than 100 people inside the headquarters and many others outside listened as Clinton brought up the killing of 20 elementary school children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.
“I think about the Newtown families every day, and I can’t imagine what it must be like to not have your children come home from school,” she said. “It matters to me that my mom has made this a central issue in her campaign and that she continues to remind us that most Americans agree on what we need to do, including most American gun owners.”
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 83 percent of all voters, including 75 percent of Donald Trump supporters and 90 percent of Clinton supporters, favor background checks for all sales of firearms.
Several measures to require universal background checks have failed to make to it through Congress.
A proposal by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for universal background checks in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting received a majority support in the Senate, but failed to clear the required 60 vote threshold.
Other similar measures since have met the same fate.
Hillary Clinton, who cited the NRA as the enemy she is most proud of having, has campaigned on the expansion of background checks, taking on the gun lobby, taking “military-style” weapons off the streets and keeping guns away from domestic abusers, violent criminals and the seriously mentally ill.
On Wednesday, Chelsea Clinton said the country needs to move beyond the rhetoric of the gun control debate and find common ground.
“We have seen gun control move forward at the local and state level, move forward in a way that hasn’t taken away guns from law abiding citizens,” Clinton said. “... Looking to where we do have consensus, looking to the models that have worked the local and state level and trying to focus on what we have in common and not the divisiveness that too often permeates the gun control debate and too many of our debates across the country.”
Many of those in the crowd Wednesday afternoon were women, from college-aged to retirees. Meanwhile, across the street, Trump supporters waved flags and signs for their candidate.