Donald Trump appeared to encourage supporters of the Second Amendment to shoot Hillary Clinton Tuesday — a terrifying remark that could qualify as a felony crime — prompting countless political figures and gun-control advocates to call for the unhinged nominee’s exit from the presidential race.
According to the New York Times, Donald Trump was speaking in Wilmington, N.C. and riffing on his dissatisfaction with the federal and Supreme Court judges that might be appointed to the bench in a prospective Clinton administration when he uttered what seemed to be a jaw-dropping implication.
“Hillary wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment. And by the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” Trump said.
“Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump added in what seemed to be a thinly-veiled suggestion that gun advocates turn their weapons on his November opponent.
A few in the crowd cheered, but many others appeared shocked by the jarring insinuation, including a man sitting directly behind the mogul whose mouth fell agape as Trump uttered the apparent incitement to violence.
Twitter lit up just seconds after Trump made the remark, with thousands of figures in politics and media wondering if the mogul had just suggested that gun-owners to turn their weapons on Clinton due to her desire to tighten gun control laws.
In a statement provided following Trump’s extreme speech, his campaign said the candidate was referring merely to “the amazing spirit” of Second Amendment advocates.
“It’s called the power of unification – 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump,” Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Trump camp, said.
But the NRA quickly weighed in, as well, tweeting that Trump was “right” about what he said.
“.@RealDonaldTrump is right. If @HillaryClinton gets to pick her anti-#2A #SCOTUS judges, there’s nothing we can do. #NeverHillary,” the gun group tweeted. “But there IS something we will do on #ElectionDay: Show up and vote for the #2A! #DefendtheSecond #NeverHillary,” it added.
The Clinton campaign immediately condemned Trump’s extraordinary words.
“This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement.
“This isn’t play. Unstable people with powerful guns and an unhinged hatred for Hillary are listening to you, @realDonaldTrump,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “Was @realDonaldTrump suggesting his supporters shoot Hillary? Shoot her nominee? Who knows. It’s all so disgusting and embarrassing and sad.”
“Don’t treat this as a political misstep. It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis,” Murphy added.
In a brief statement, Priorities USA, a Super PAC backing the Democratic nominee called Trump, “Dangerous. Stupid. Unhinged.”
“Totally unacceptable. Every Republican who backs Trump is backing this reprehensible behavior,” Priorities USA spokesman Justin Barasky said.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) urged the Secret Service to investigate.
“Donald Trump suggested someone kill Sec. Clinton. We must take people at their word. @SecretService must investigate #TrumpThreat,” he tweeted.
A concerned anti-Trump group went one step further and contacted the FBI after the mogul’s threat.
“The Democratic Coalition Against Trump today reached out to high-level contacts in the Washington, D.C. field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to voice concerns about Donald Trump’s call for violence against Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and to argue that Trump should be arrested for attempting to incite political violence,” the group said in a statement.
“There is no place in American politics for this kind of disgusting rhetoric,” Scott Dworkin, a senior official with the group, added. “Donald Trump should immediately drop out of the race, and he should be arrested for committing a federal crime,” Dworkin said, noting that “there have been much less clear-cut cases of people being charged for less.”
“He’s proven himself to be nothing more than a thug, and anyone supporting him after this grotesque display should be publicly shamed. It’s truly abhorrent and we must all stand united – regardless of party affiliation to say loudly that Americans reject this kind of hateful and dangerous rhetoric,” he said.
In fact, federal criminal law indicates Trump have actually crossed the line from bombastic billionaire to felonious threat-maker
Under 8 U.S.C. § 879 : US Code – Section 879: Threats against former Presidents and certain other persons,” Trump could even possibly face up to five years in prison.
“(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully threatens to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm upon – … (3) a major candidate for the office of President of Vice President, or a member of the immediate family of such candidate … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both,” the statute reads.
In a brief statement, the Secret Service, which is charged with protecting presidential candidates, said it was “aware of the comment” Trump made.
Prominent gun control groups blasted Trump’s insinuation.
“What Donald Trump said today is repulsive – literally using the second amendment as cover to encourage people to kill someone with whom they disagree,” Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross said. “Today’s effort to encourage targeted violence based on a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton and the second amendment proves how dangerous Trump really is.”
“He would rather solve his problems and political disagreements with violence and bullets than words. For Trump, violence has become a standard talking point, a common punch line, and even a campaign strategy,” Gross said. “Instead of offering even a single solution, Trump has continued to make light of gun violence and even promote its proliferation.”
Trump’s nod to violence certainly isn’t the first from someone associated with his campaign.