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Donald Trump hints at assassination of Hillary Clinton by gun rights supporters

Donald Trump has been accused of a making an “assassination threat” against rival Hillary Clinton, plunging his presidential campaign into a fresh crisis.
The volatile Republican nominee was speaking at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, about the next president’s power to appoint supreme court justices. “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the second amendment,” said Trump, eliciting boos from the crowd.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”
The second amendment to the constitution protects the right of Americans to bear arms. Trump has accused his Democratic rival of wanting to abolish it, a charge that she denies.
His extraordinary remark on Tuesday was swiftly condemned by Democrats. Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said: “This is simple – what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting took place in Newtown in 2012, went further in a tweet: “Don’t treat this as a political misstep. It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”

British novelist Salman Rushdie then weighed in, tweeting: “Of course the Trump flacks are now trying to confuse the issue, but Senator Murphy is clear about what Trump meant.”
The claim was rejected by Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama and longtime Trump supporter. He responded on CNN: “Totally wrong. I don’t believe that’s true. I don’t believe that’s at all what he meant.”
But Sessions acknowledged: “It may have been awkwardly phrased.”
Trump said later in reply to Sean Hannity on Fox News that he was referring to the political movement around the Second Amendment.
Hannity asked: “You know, so obviously you’re saying that there’s a strong political movement within the Second Amendment, and if people mobilize and vote, they can stop Hillary from having this impact on the court. But that’s not how the media is spinning it. What’s your reaction to it?”
Trump replied: “Well, I just heard about that, and it was amazing because nobody in that room thought anything other than what you just said. This is a political movement. This is a strong, powerful movement, the Second Amendment … there can be no other interpretation. Even reporters have told me – I mean give me a break.”
Trump has been striving to show more discipline on the campaign trail after a string of gaffes in recent weeks. He remained in control in Detroit on Monday when a speech on the economy was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. But in Wilmington, he apparently could not resist going off-script.

Campaigners for gun control expressed outrage at his off-the-cuff remark. Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, said: “Donald Trump continues to pander to the corporate gun lobby and the gun extremists who thrive on fear and rhetoric.
“Any suggestion that gun violence should be used to stop Hillary Clinton from appointing supreme court justices is dangerous and reckless. It’s no surprise that 50 GOP national security experts have signed a letter making a pledge to not vote for him.”

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker called the uproar over Trump’s remarks a “distraction created by the dishonest media.”
“The NRA represents law-abiding gun owners and we support lawful behavior,” she wrote in an email.
“The NRA and Donald Trump are calling for Second Amendment supporters to protect their constitutional right to self defense by defeating Hillary Clinton at the ballot box,” Baker said. “Second Amendment voters understand the stakes. They understand that the Second Amendment is on the ballot.”
Clinton’s campaign went on the record in May saying that she believes the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision, a key victory for gun rights, was “wrongly decided.”
The 5-4 Heller decision struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban as unconstitutional, ruling that Americans have an individual right to own guns for self-defense in their homes.

“If Heller is overturned, that paves the way for extreme gun control for decades,” Baker said.
The official NRA Twitter feed compared Trump’s remarks to a 2008 comment from then-Senator Joseph Biden, who said “If [Obama] tries to fool with my Beretta, he’s got a problem,” and asked “Was Joe Biden…suggesting violence here?”
The supreme court has become a central election issue since the death earlier this year of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative who has not yet been replaced. Trump claims that liberal judges could threaten the second amendment.
Progressive pressure groups that have been watching the process closely joined the condemnation of Trump on Tuesday. Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, said: “There has been no shortage of inexcusable rhetoric from Trump, but suggesting gun violence is truly abhorrent. There is no place in our public discourse for this kind of statement, especially from someone seeking the nation’s highest office.”

Trump has produced a shortlist of conservative justices that he hopes will appeal to the Republican base and deter those considering defecting to Clinton, who could set the court on a liberal trajectory for years to come.
He told supporters on Tuesday: “I guess there’s a scenario in which this president could pick five supreme court justices, and if you pick two that are left, left, left, it’s going to be a disaster for our country.”

Trump was introduced by Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, who brought up the case of Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist executed for spying for the US. Clinton received emails mentioning him on her controversial personal server when she was secretary of state.

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