By Mrinal Gokhale
With so many hot button issues being considered in this year’s election, Clinton discussed how she’d address gun violence, an issue especially relevant to Milwaukee, at the Community Gun Violence Prevention Forum.
The former Secretary of State arrived on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. at Tabernacle Community Baptist Church (2500 W. Medford Avenue), located in one of Milwaukee’s most crime ridden zip codes.
Next to Clinton sat Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Geneva Reed-Veal; mother of the late Sandra Bland and Annette Nance-Holt from Chicago; mother of a 16- year-old boy who was shot and killed on a bus.
“This community deals greatly with gun violence,” said Pastor Don Butler before introducing Clinton.
“One member who lost her son to gun violence in 2011 is present now. We’re happy the matter has risen to national prominence this campaign season.”
Clinton first cited how problematic gun violence is in the United States. “Ninety deaths take place daily because of guns; that’s about 33,000 per year.
Too often, people use guns to solve disputes or settle scores,” said Clinton.
“I read some press coverage of homicides in Milwaukee. I read about 13-monthold baby sitting with his grandfather who got shot. I also read about a young girl shot on a playground,” she said.
She also mentioned the late Dontre Hamilton, a man who died at the hands of a police officer last year, and said his mother, Maria Hamilton, wanted to join the forum, but was at a funeral.
Clinton’s plan, if elected, includes addressing the National Rifle Association to rework laws to better regulate gun control. She wasn’t afraid to mention the lack of gun control support from Sanders.
“Gun sellers and manufacturers are responsible for killings too, but are immune from liability because of a law I and Obama voted against and Bernie voted for,” she said.
For Congresswoman Moore, Milwaukee’s gun violence inspires her to push for gun control and commemorate victims who lost their lives from violence.
She noted that most of the 152 homicide victims in Milwaukee last year were African Americans and 61 percent were under the age of 30.
“Every December 3, I hold a candlelight vigil for victims of violence in Milwaukee, and the number has increased exponentially.
Most of those crimes involved guns,” Moore said. Moore said she is introducing two bills designed to reduce gun related homicides. The Gun Dealer Accountability Act pushes for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (AFT) to ask for an inventory list and inspect stores that have sold 10 or more weapons linked to crimes within two years. This act also targets gun stores and manufacturers that have illegally transferred guns.
“AFT officers only inspect gun stores once per year. Who knew how easy it is to get into the business of selling guns without any accountability?” said Moore.
The next bill, Moore said, would disarm individuals who have an order of protection. She referred to a shooting at the Brookfield Azana Salon and Spa in 2012, when a man bought a gun online and shot his ex-wife plus six more employees at Azana.
“I want 100 percent background checks for gun dealers,” she said. Nance-Holt then told her story about her teenage son, who was shot on a bus by someone who was targeting a gang member.
Her story made a woman in the audience emotional. “That voice you heard was from a member who lost a son to gun violence,” said Butler.
Nance-Holt noted that many men ages 16 to 21 in the United States are either dead or incarcerated, and said that even if the NRA said changing laws won’t eliminate all killings, she’ll be glad if it eliminates any of the killings.
“I applaud Hilary for reaching to us because the other democratic candidate didn’t. If you want my vote, you must work for it,” she said, as the audience cheered once more.
After the forum ended, Clinton next visited La Cross and Green Bay.