As Hillary Stands Her Ground for Sensible Gun Laws, Trump Panders to the NRA Crowd

Presumed Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton espouse vastly differing opinions on gun control, mirroring a larger national conflict surrounding gun ownership and common-sense gun reform.

Proponents of stricter gun laws say placing greater restrictions on firearm sales can stymie casualties at the hands of gun violence, a leading cause of premature death in the United States. Over 13,000 people were killed by firearms in 2015, a figure that excludes death by suicide. On average, 217 people in the U.S. are shot each day.

Despite the staggering number of casualties involving firearms, the U.S. population is still split on the issue of gun control. A CNN poll from 2015 found that 52 percent of Americans oppose stricter gun laws, while 46 percent support reform. But even the data is split; a CBS News/New York Times poll from the same period found that 92 percent of Americans favor background checks for all gun buyers (an expansion of gun laws, technically speaking).

Nowhere is that split more apparent than in the presidential race, where voters will have to weigh which candidate more closely hews to their views about gun control this November. 

Speaking Friday at the National Rifle Association’s annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky—where shootings are up 40 percent since 2015—presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump made it very clear what he thinks about Hillary Clinton’s push for stricter gun control. Trump solidified his commitment to protecting the Second Amendment despite his inconsistent record on gun control. 

Trump, who once supported a ban on assault weapons and longer waiting periods to purchase a gun, now regularly touts his concealed weapons permit to pro-gun audiences. He also promises to end gun-free zones, claiming mass shootings and terrorist attacks may be mitigated by armed civilians.

In stark contrast to Trump’s newfound pro-NRA stance, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton—who named the NRA as one of her top enemies during the 2015 CNN Democratic debate—will be the keynote speaker Saturday at an event sponsored by the Trayvon Martin Foundation. The former Secretary of State advocates for common-sense gun reform and safety restrictions intended to reduce the skyrocketing number of gun-related deaths in America. It's a position that, in a past long ago, may have been shared by her political foe.

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