Amid Controversy Over Gun Remark, Trump Holds Rally Near Ft. Bragg

Aug 10, 2016

In Fayetteville, N.C., Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke mainly about the economy. But much of the media attention focused on a remark he made earlier in the day that critics say advocated violence against his opponents.

Trump's appearance at Fayetteville's Crown Arena came hours after he spoke in Wilmington, N.C. and accused Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of wanting to "abolish the Second Amendment."

"If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks," Trump said in his Wilmington speech. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know."

Clinton's campaign reacted swiftly, interpreting Trump's comment as a threat against Clinton or her potential judicial appointees.

In an interview with the public radio program Texas Standard, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine said, "There is absolutely no place, there should be no place in our politics for somebody who wants to be a leader to say something even in an offhand way that is connected to inciting violence."

Trump's campaign said he was not advocating violence, but merely encouraging gun owners to vote. 

"Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power," said a statement from Trump's campaign. "And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won't be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump."

Clinton has not called for abolishing the Second Amendment, though she has voiced support for a variety of measures to tighten background checks for gun buyers and prevent certain people - such as domestic abusers and violent felons - from owning firearms. 

Presidents have no authority to abolish constitutional amendments or alter the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional changes must be approved by three-fourths of the states, after they're proposed by Congress or through a Constitutional convention.

"We can protect our Second Amendment rights and take commonsense steps to prevent gun violence," she said in April.

Trump's supporters in Fayetteville seemed unconcerned about the controversy. Those who were aware of it agreed that Trump was calling for gun-rights supporters to express their views at the ballot box, not to take up arms against their political opponents. 

In his Fayetteville remarks, Trump praised the military and criticized the management of the Department of Veterans Affairs, though he didn't specifically mention Fort Bragg.  He also promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and blamed Clinton and President Obama for the loss of U.S. jobs to China and Mexico.

"In North Carolina and every other place to be honest, they have ripped businesses from your guts," he said.

The rally was Trump's second appearance in Fayetteville, but it attracted a much smaller crowd than his first visit in March.  In a Public Policy Polling poll released this week, Trump trailed Clinton in North Carolina for the first time since March, though her two percentage point advantage is within the poll's margin of error.