On Sept. 8, 2015, Americans for Tax Reform published documentation of Hillary Clinton’s 1993 endorsement of a new national 25% retail sales tax on guns. “I am all for that,” said Clinton of the tax as she testified before the Senate Finance Committee.
As the story picked up steam in conservative media outlets, the Clinton campaign team began to worry.
On Oct. 4, 2015, Clinton advisor Mandy Grunwald emailed the team saying, “I also saw something about her supporting a 25% tax on gun sales back in 1993. I didn’t see q and a on either of these in the briefing.”
Later that day, campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri replied: “Being added today.”
It is unclear if the campaign team ever came up with talking points in an attempt to justify Clinton’s gun tax endorsement. The email thread either ended at that point, or any response has yet to be released by Wikileaks.
In the primary election, Clinton aggressively positioned herself to the left of Bernie Sanders on guns, and attacked Sanders relentlessly for his 1990s gun votes.
Hillary’s endorsement of the gun tax was reported at the time by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, NBC Nightly News and several other outlets.
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.
And 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 Sept. 30, 1993, NBC Nightly News reported the incident as follows:
“Others urge a hefty sales tax on guns, and much higher fees for gun dealers. Today, they got a powerful ally.
Ms. 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.”
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."
On April 14, 2016, ATR released previously unseen video footage from a non-C-SPAN camera showing Hillary’s visceral facial expression during the moments she endorsed the gun tax and as gun owners and dealers were described as “purveyors of violence.”
On June 5, 2016, during an interview on ABC’s This Week hosted by George Stephanopoulos, Clinton had the video footage played to her and was given the opportunity to renounce her gun tax endorsement. She refused to do so. In fact, Clinton has never renounced the tax, and her aggressive anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment statements do nothing to indicate she’s changed her mind.
On Sept. 20, 2016, ATR noted yet another Clinton gun tax endorsement from 1993: a doubling of the existing federal excise tax on guns. In a closed-door meeting, she told the anti-gun Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) that his bill to double the tax was a “great idea."
Clinton’s deeply held belief in higher taxes on the American people is documented at ATR’s dedicated website, www.HighTaxHillary.com