Igniting a new controversy, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said that gun rights activists could stop Hillary Clinton from winning the polls and picking new Supreme Court judges, a remark strongly criticised as a threat of violence against his Democratic rival.
“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Though the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump said at an election rally in Wilmington, North Carolina yesterday.
The US Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear firearms.
Trump’s comments were interpreted by many as a threat of violence against his Democratic rival with Clinton campaign decrying the remark as “dangerous.”
“This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to the be president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, in the statement.
Trump, however, defended his comments, insisting that he was asking his supporters to use the power of their vote to stop Clinton from appointing justices who could restrict their Second Amendment rights.
He claimed that the support for Second Amendment is a “strong powerful movement” and dismissed any other interpretation of his comments.
“This is a political movement. This is a strong, powerful movement, the Second Amendment. And there can be no other interpretation. Even reporters have told me. I mean, give me a break,” Trump told Fox News.
Trump’s “Second Amendment” remarks was criticised by several lawmakers, former national security officials and media.
Michael Hayden, a former CIA director who was among 50 Republican national security experts to denounce Trump in a letter, told CNN, “If someone else had said that said outside the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.”
“You are not just responsible for what you say. You are responsible for what people hear,” he said.