National Politics

Hillary Clinton blasts Donald Trump at Trayvon Martin Foundation event

Hillary Clinton hugs Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, after speaking to the Trayvon Martin Foundation gala in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday.
Hillary Clinton hugs Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, after speaking to the Trayvon Martin Foundation gala in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. pportal@elnuevoherald.com

Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump’s statements to the NRA about gun control Saturday night in Fort Lauderdale.

“Just yesterday [Friday] at the NRA annual convention Donald Trump said in his very first hour as president — heaven forbid — he would overturn President [Barack] Obama’s action to strengthen background checks,” Clinton said.

Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, spoke at the Trayvon Martin Foundation’s Circle of Mothers event held for mothers who have lost a child to gun violence. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, has endorsed Clinton.

“Something is wrong when so many young people just starting their lives are dying …,” Clinton said at the event held at the Embassy Suites hotel. “This election gives us a chance of trying to make it right.”

Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager from Miami Gardens, was gunned down by George Zimmerman in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012. Martin was on a trip with his father at the time when he was shot by Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, and volunteer neighborhood watch captain. The fatal shooting ignited a heated debate across the nation about race, gun rights and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and similar policies in other states.

“Despite all the political noise we are actually united on this issue,” Clinton said. “The vast majority of Americans support comprehensive background checks. … This isn’t a matter of building public support. We already have it. It’s a matter of making elected officials do their jobs to keep our children safe.”

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, told the NRA this week that Clinton was “heartless” for backing restrictions on gun ownership. He claimed she would try to “abolish” the Second Amendment through the U.S. Supreme Court. PolitiFact ruled a similar claim by Trump False because Clinton has repeatedly said she wants to protect the right to bear arms while enacting measures to prevent gun violence.

The NRA endorsed Trump who supported an assault weapons ban in 2000 but opposes restrictions now. He has also vowed to get rid of gun-free zones at schools.

“That idea isn’t just way out there,” Clinton said Saturday night. “It’s dangerous … Parents, teachers and schools should have a right to keep guns out of classroom just like Donald Trump does at many of his hotels by the way. This is somebody running for president of the United States of America, a country facing a gun violence epidemic, and he is talking about more guns in our schools, he is talking about more hatred and division in our streets, even more nuclear weapons in the world. That’s no way to keep us safe.”

Clinton has not advocated for shutting down the NRA or banning handguns outright, PolitiFact found. She has called for gun control measures such as broader background-check requirements, including sales at gun shows, as well as measures to prevent purchases by domestic abusers and people with serious mental health problems.

Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by a landslide in the March 15 Florida primary in part because of her support from black Democratic voters. She is now trying to continue her message about racial inequality and gun violence in an effort to drive up black voter turnout for the Nov. 8 election. The vast majority of black voters are expected to side with Clinton rather than Trump but the question is can she inspire turnout anywhere close to what Obama achieved to help him win the swing state of Florida twice.

Before her speech, Clinton spoke with 60 mothers who lost a child to gun violence. It cost a minimum $1,500 to attend.

“Unlike Trump I will not pander to the gun lobby,” Clinton said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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