Today Hillary Clinton was given an opportunity to disavow her endorsement of a 25 percent national retail sales tax on guns. She refused to do so.
The refusal took place during an interview on ABC’s This Week, when host George Stephanopoulos played footage of Clinton’s 1993 gun tax endorsement and asked the candidate to respond. Clinton defended her position and did not retract her endorsement.
In passionate Senate testimony on Sept. 30, 1993, Clinton endorsed a new national 25 percent retail sales tax on guns. Americans for Tax Reform has released footage of Clinton’s visceral facial expressions which shows her nodding fiercely as she endorses the gun tax and as gun owners and dealers are described as “purveyors of violence.”
Clinton’s gun tax endorsement came in response to a question from then-Senator Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), who lamented the “accessibility that guns have in the country today.” He said to Hillary:
There are 276,000 gun dealers in America. There are more gun dealers in America than there are gas stations. That, to me, is a remarkable number and I think it is directly related to the accessibility that guns have in the country today. And if we simply put a 25 percent sales tax on the sale of a gun and raise the dealer’s fees from $30-$75 to $2,500, we would raise $600 million. That would be a tax directly on the purveyors of violence in terms of the sales of the means of violence.
Clinton gave her strong endorsement of the tax, saying, “I am all for that.” She concluded by saying, “I am speaking personally, but I feel very strongly about that.”
Clinton’s 25 percent gun tax endorsement was widely reported at the time. Here is NBC Nightly News on Sept. 30, 1993:
LISA MYERS reporting: Others urge a hefty sales tax on guns, and much higher fees for gun dealers. Today, they got a powerful ally.
HILLARY CLINTON: I’m all for that. I just don’t know what else we’re going to do to try to figure out how to get some handle on this violence.
LISA MYERS: Hillary Clinton added that’s only her personal opinion.
Senator BILL BRADLEY (Democrat, New Jersey): There is no more important personal endorsement in the country today, and I–I thank you very much.
As reported by the AP on Oct. 1, 1993:
Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., picked up Mrs. Clinton’s support for his idea of slapping stiff taxes on ”purveyors of violence:” a 25 percent sales tax on guns and $2,500 license fees for gun dealers.
”Speaking personally … I’m all for that,” said the first lady. But she stressed she was just speaking for herself.
”Well, let me say that there is no more important personal endorsement in the country today, and I thank you very much,” said a pleased-as-punch Bradley.
Here’s the Washington Post on Oct. 1, 1993:
“I’m all for it,” she declared in a response to a suggestion by Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) that the Congress should impose a 25 percent sales tax on handguns to “tax directly the purveyors of violence.”
The Bill Clinton White House made it clear that Hillary’s 25 percent gun tax endorsement was hers and hers alone, as shown by the Oct. 1, 1993 White House press briefing transcript:
Q: “Do you know if the President supports the First Lady’s endorsement of an idea yesterday by Senator Bradley that there be a 25 percent tax on the sale of guns in America?”
WH Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers: “Well, as you know, she was expressing her opinion.”
“Hillary wants to tax guns out of existence,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. George Stephanopoulos tossed Hillary Clinton a great big softball/lifeline. She could have stated on national television that she has changed her mind and now opposes the 25 percent sales tax on guns she praised in 1993. Hillary chose to stand by her taxing of guns.”
A gif of Hillary’s facial expression as she endorses the 25 percent gun tax is below: