The National Rifle Association is claiming that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lied during her debate answer about the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller. But the NRA, which called the Heller ruling “a great moment in American history,” needs to revisit the decision.
During the final presidential debate, Clinton explained that she previously called Heller “wrongly decided” because she disagrees “with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in that case, because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them.”
The NRA responded on Twitter, writing, “So now [Clinton] says Heller was abt toddlers? Another lie; was abt the right to defend yourself w/ a gun in your home”:
The NRA should revisit the text of the Heller decision. The case was about the right to keep a gun in the home for the purpose of self-defense. But it was also about safe gun storage -- specifically a trigger-lock requirement. Indeed, the court issued a ruling on two issues, striking down, on Second Amendment grounds, both D.C.’s law banning handgun ownership and D.C.’s law about gun storage that was meant to safeguard people -- specifically children -- from accidents:
In fact, contrary to the NRA’s false claim that Heller wasn’t about gun accidents involving children, Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent highlighted the accidental firearm-related deaths of children seven times.
As Clinton alluded to in her answer, D.C.’s brief for the Supreme Court argued that the gun storage law “is a reasonable regulation designed to prevent accidental and unnecessary shootings,” while noting, “In 1991 the U.S. General Accounting Office found that 8% of accidental shooting deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six, which could have been prevented by child-proof safety locks.”
When the decision came down, the NRA itself explained at the time of the ruling, the decision was about both D.C.’s handgun ban and “possession of functional firearms” in the home.
In the same debate answer, Clinton also added, “I also believe there's an individual right to bear arms. That is not in conflict with sensible, commonsense regulation.”
During the presidential campaign, the NRA has based its opposition to Clinton on its claim that she opposes allowing people to own guns -- a charge that has been repeatedly rated false by independent fact-checkers.