Hillary Clinton tells mental health conference nation's gun culture 'way out of balance'

Ken Thomas / The Associated Press
May 6, 2014 10:52 AM

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton answers a question at the 2014 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, Md., Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Clinton spoke about mental health, political, and social issues during her talk. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday the nation's gun culture has gotten "way out of balance" and the U.S. needs to rein in the notion that "anybody can have a gun, anywhere, anytime."

The former Secretary of State and potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said the idea that anyone can have a gun is not in the "best interest of the vast majority of people." But she said that approach does not conflict with the rights of people to own firearms.

Clinton waded into the polarizing issue of gun politics during an appearance at the National Council for Behavioral Health conference near Washington, pointing to recent shootings that involved teens who had been playing loud music and chewing gum and a separate incident involving the typing of text messages in a movie theatre.

"I think again we're way out of balance. I think that we've got to rein in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime," Clinton said. "And I don't believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people. And I think you can say that and still support the right of people to own guns."

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted against legislation pushed by President Barack Obama last year that would have expanded background checks for firearm purchases to gun shows and online sales. The legislation came in the aftermath of the deadly Sandy Hook elementary school shootings in Connecticut.

If Clinton runs for president, her views on gun control would clash with Republicans, who have largely opposed efforts to tighten gun laws. During a recent National Rifle Association conference in Indianapolis, for example, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a potential 2016 candidate, said Clinton and Vice-President Joe Biden considered the Second Amendment to be little more than "a phrase from a speech writer." The amendment to the U.S. Constitution permits gun ownership.

Clinton told attendees at the mental health conference that "at the rate we're going, we're going to have so many people with guns everywhere, fully licensed, fully validated" in settings like movie theatres where shootings have arisen over seemingly mundane things like loud gum chewing or cellphone use.

"That's what happens in the countries I've visited where there is no rule of law and no self-control and that is something that we cannot just let go without paying attention," she said.

During a question-and-answer session, Clinton was asked about the 1993 suicide of Clinton White House lawyer Vince Foster. Referring to him as "our friend in the White House," she said he had been depressed and "filled with anxieties." Like other men she has known who killed themselves, Clinton said, "they did not want to be seen as weak, they didn't want to admit their problems."

Clinton said she was still considering her political future, telling the audience she is someone "who has to really mull things over."

"So stay tuned," Clinton said. "When I know, you'll know."

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Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ap_ken_thomas


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