Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debated on stage for the final time on Oct. 19 at the Thomas and Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The moderator was Chris Wallace of Fox News. During one of her statements, Ms. Clinton said that toddlers getting access to firearms was the reason Washington, D.C. had a firearms ownership ban that was overturned by the Heller decision. The excerpts below are taken from the official transcript of the event, redacted to show both candidates comments on Supreme Court nominees and the 2nd Amendment:
WALLACE: Secretary Clinton, Mr. Trump, welcome. Let’s get right to it. The first topic is the Supreme Court.
You both talked briefly about the court in the last debate, but I want to drill down on this, because the next president will almost certainly have at least one appointment and likely or possibly two or three appointments.
WALLACE: Which means that you will, in effect, determine the balance of the court for what could be the next quarter century.
First of all, where do you want to see the court take the country? And secondly, what’s your view on how the Constitution should be interpreted? Do the founders’ words mean what they say or is it a living document to be applied flexibly according to changing circumstances? In this segment, Secretary Clinton, you go first. You have two minutes.
CLINTON: You know, I think when we talk about the Supreme Court, it really raises the central issue in this election, namely, what kind of country are we going to be? What kind of opportunities will we provide for our citizens? What kind of rights will Americans have?
And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system.
I have major disagreements with my opponent about these issues and others that will be before the Supreme Court. But I feel that at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of people in the workplace, that we stand up and basically say: The Supreme Court should represent all of us.
That’s how I see the court, and the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans.
And I look forward to having that opportunity. I would hope that the Senate would do its job and confirm the nominee that President Obama has sent to them. That’s the way the Constitution fundamentally should operate. The president nominates, and then the Senate advises and consents, or not, but they go forward with the process.
WALLACE: Secretary Clinton, thank you.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, same question. Where do you want to see the court take the country? And how do you believe the Constitution should be interpreted?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, it’s great to be with you, and thank you, everybody. The Supreme Court: It’s what it’s all about. Our country is so, so — it’s just so imperative that we have the right justices.
Something happened recently where Justice Ginsburg made some very, very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent. And she was forced to apologize. And apologize she did. But these were statements that should never, ever have been made.
We need a Supreme Court that in my opinion is going to uphold the Second Amendment, and all amendments, but the Second Amendment, which is under absolute siege. I believe if my opponent should win this race, which I truly don’t think will happen, we will have a Second Amendment which will be a very, very small replica of what it is right now. But I feel that it’s absolutely important that we uphold, because of the fact that it is under such trauma.
I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint — and I’ve named 20 of them — the justices that I’m going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent. They will be protecting the Second Amendment. They are great scholars in all cases, and they’re people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that’s very, very important.
I don’t think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear. It’s all about the Constitution of — of — and so important, the Constitution the way it was meant to be. And those are the people that I will appoint.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, thank you.
WALLACE: We now have about 10 minutes for an open discussion. I want to focus on two issues that, in fact, by the justices that you name could end up changing the existing law of the land. First is one that you mentioned, Mr. Trump, and that is guns.
Secretary Clinton, you said last year, let me quote, “The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.” And now, in fact, in the 2008 Heller case, the court ruled that there is a constitutional right to bear arms, but a right that is reasonably limited. Those were the words of the Judge Antonin Scalia who wrote the decision. What’s wrong with that?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I support the Second Amendment. I lived in Arkansas for 18 wonderful years. I represented upstate New York. I understand and respect the tradition of gun ownership. It goes back to the founding of our country.
But I also believe that there can be and must be reasonable regulation. Because I support the Second Amendment doesn’t mean that I want people who shouldn’t have guns to be able to threaten you, kill you or members of your family.
And so when I think about what we need to do, we have 33,000 people a year who die from guns. I think we need comprehensive background checks, need to close the online loophole, close the gun show loophole. There’s other matters that I think are sensible that are the kind of reforms that would make a difference that are not in any way conflicting with the Second Amendment.
You mentioned the Heller decision. And what I was saying that you referenced, Chris, was that I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in that case, because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them. And the court didn’t accept that reasonable regulation, but they’ve accepted many others. So I see no conflict between saving people’s lives and defending the Second Amendment.
WALLACE: Let me bring Mr. Trump in here. The bipartisan Open Debate Coalition got millions of votes on questions to ask here, and this was, in fact, one of the top questions that they got. How will you ensure the Second Amendment is protected? You just heard Secretary Clinton’s answer. Does she persuade you that, while you may disagree on regulation, that, in fact, she supports a Second Amendment right to bear arms?
TRUMP: Well, the D.C. vs. Heller decision was very strongly — and she was extremely angry about it. I watched. I mean, she was very, very angry when upheld. And Justice Scalia was so involved. And it was a well-crafted decision. But Hillary was extremely upset, extremely angry. And people that believe in the Second Amendment and believe in it very strongly were very upset with what she had to say.
WALLACE: Well, let me bring in Secretary Clinton. Were you extremely upset?
CLINTON: Well, I was upset because, unfortunately, dozens of toddlers injure themselves, even kill people with guns, because, unfortunately, not everyone who has loaded guns in their homes takes appropriate precautions.
But there’s no doubt that I respect the Second Amendment, that I also believe there’s an individual right to bear arms. That is not in conflict with sensible, commonsense regulation.
And, you know, look, I understand that Donald’s been strongly supported by the NRA. The gun lobby’s on his side. They’re running millions of dollars of ads against me. And I regret that, because what I would like to see is for people to come together and say: Of course we’re going to protect and defend the Second Amendment. But we’re going to do it in a way that tries to save some of these 33,000 lives that we lose every year.
WALLACE: Let me bring Mr. Trump back into this, because, in fact, you oppose any limits on assault weapons, any limits on high- capacity magazines. You support a national right to carry law. Why, sir?
TRUMP: Well, let me just tell you before we go any further. In Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States, probably you could say by far, they have more gun violence than any other city. So we have the toughest laws, and you have tremendous gun violence.
I am a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment. And I am — I don’t know if Hillary was saying it in a sarcastic manner, but I’m very proud to have the endorsement of the NRA. And it’s the earliest endorsement they’ve ever given to anybody who ran for president. So I’m very honored by all of that.
We are going to appoint justices — this is the best way to help the Second Amendment. We are going to appoint justices that will feel very strongly about the Second Amendment, that will not do damage to the Second Amendment.
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