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Hillary Clinton Calls Gun Control A 'Civil-Rights Issue' In Chicago Speech

By Ted Cox | June 27, 2016 12:07pm | Updated on June 29, 2016 10:47am
 Hillary Clinton says
Hillary Clinton says "the tide is turning" on gun control.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

SOUTH LOOP — Speaking in Chicago Monday, Hillary Clinton called gun control a "civil-rights issue" and slammed Donald Trump as "incoherent" and selfish.

Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, in delivering the keynote speech at a Rainbow PUSH convention luncheon, said, "I am convinced the tide is turning" on "common-sense" gun control.

"I can feel it," Clinton said.

She praised U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson), who was in attendance, for joining a recent sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House to call for gun control.

"Things are so broken" in the political system, Clinton added, that it took a '60s-style protest just to call for a congressional vote on gun control. The former U.S. secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady went on to call it a "civil-rights issue."

 U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly talks with Democratic Cook County state's attorney candidate Kim Foxx before Hillary Clinton's appearance. Clinton cheered Kelly's role in a congressional sit-in on gun control.
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly talks with Democratic Cook County state's attorney candidate Kim Foxx before Hillary Clinton's appearance. Clinton cheered Kelly's role in a congressional sit-in on gun control.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

Clinton blamed the gun lobby for working to prevent legislative votes. "They know what I know," she added. "The vast majority of the American people" support stricter gun laws.

Clinton recognized Annette Nance-Holt, mother of slain Chicago teen Blair Holt, shot and killed on a CTA bus in 2007, in the crowd at the McCormick Place event.

RELATED: Exploring Hillary Clinton's Roots on Chicago's Far North Side

Jacqueline Jackson, wife of PUSH founder the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., was chairwoman of the luncheon and spoke before Clinton took the stage, expressing excitement over being able to elect a woman for president in the November contest.

The mood shifted, however, when her husband took the stage and addressed an issue that is impossible to avoid in Chicago: gun violence. 

"The stakes are high, the blood is running down the streets of our city," Jackson said, citing the 300 killed in Chicago this year, including 66 last month. 

Clinton acknowledged the gun issue almost immediately, pointing to the more than 64 people who were shot in Chicago on Memorial Day weekend and the 33,000 killed nationwide by people using guns each year.

Speaking in measured, reasoned tones, she told the audience she often is criticized for being too careful with her words, but defended that practice.

Clinton charged that "25 years of wild accusations" made in the media by "conspiracy theorists" had caused the public to question her trustworthiness. Yet she insisted, "I will do everything I can to rebuild our trust in your government," adding, "No one will fight harder for you and your families than I will."

"If it sometimes sounds like I'm careful with my words, it's not that I'm hiding something, it's just that I'm careful with my words," she said, adding that someone who wants to be president should be thoughtful. The comment was an obvious jab at Trump's brash and seemingly impulsive speeches and tweets. 

Even if she weren't running for president, Clinton said, she would be doing everything she could to stop Trump from entering the White House, as the next president could potentially appoint three Supreme Court justices.

"We cannot let that president be Donald Trump," she said, calling him "a man with dangerous, incoherent ideas" and "temperamentally unfit to be president."

Clinton praised President Barack Obama and promised to extend his legacy of 75 straight months of job growth. "We are gonna build on the progress made by President Obama," she added. "He does not get the credit he deserves" for dealing with the 2008 recession. Clinton said Obama "protected us from another Great Depression."

Clinton was well-received in an earlier Chicago campaign appearance in Bronzeville in February. Returning to her native city, Clinton made a strong pitch for gun control, appearing with those she called "mothers of the movement" — Nance-Holt and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, mother of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton.

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