During a campaign rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, Republican presidential nominee casually suggested that "Second Amendment people" could take care of Hillary Clinton, which many interpreted as a thinly veiled indication that those concerned about their right to bear arms could actually shoot Clinton if they wanted.
"Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment," Trump told the crowd. "And if she gets to pick her judges [for the U.S. Supreme Court]—nothing you can do, folks."
Trump than paused, before adding with a shrug, "Although the Second Amendment people maybe there is. I don’t know."
Watch the clip:
The Clinton campaign did not hesitate to express its disdain for the remarks and indicated Trump's invoking of "Second Amendment people" should be interpreted as a threat of violence.
"This is simple—what Trump is saying is dangerous," said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook in a statement. "A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."
Josh Horwitz, executive director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said the comments were wholly out of bounds for a presidential candidate and only adds to the toxic discourse that fuels violence in the country.
"The threat of gun violence towards a political opponent, their possible appointees, or the United States Government is unacceptable from anyone, even in jest, and is especially egregious from a candidate for the highest office in the land," Horwitz said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this is a point of view that has been mainstreamed by the National Rifle Association and parroted by candidates for political office in the past. As a nation we have seen gun violence against our government workers, our law enforcement, and even an assassination attempt on a sitting member of Congress. The comments today from Donald Trump show a blatant misunderstanding of the Second Amendment, United States Constitution and the ideals that make this country great."
According to the Huffington Post:
Trump’s campaign did not respond to queries about his remark, but at least one person attending the rally appeared to sense the comment was out of bounds. He was, presumably, joking.
But joking about assassinating the president or presidential candidates is not taken lightly by the Secret Service, whose agents are tasked with protecting their lives, even at the cost of their own.
Subsequently, Politico reports on how the Trump campaign's rapid-response team quickly tried to explain away the comments.
"It’s called the power of unification," Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in an email. "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."
However, on social media, the response to the comment was general outrage coupled with disbelief over how—despite an already impressive list of disturbing and offensive remarks—Trump continues to shock people with his rhetoric:
Holy fucking shit
He actually said it. He actually suggested his followers shoot his opponent. https://t.co/OZfHQM3Goa
— tavie rhymes w/gravy (@TheRealTavie) August 9, 2016
If Trump was talking about "voting power," then why did he say just before that there's "nothing you can do" once Hillary appointed judges?
— Brian Tashman (@briantashman) August 9, 2016
We jumped the shark 100 sharks ago, but Donald Trump just suggested that his supporters could shoot Hillary Clinton:https://t.co/Krwn2i1sVA
— Samantha Allen (@SLAwrites) August 9, 2016
WHERE WE ARE: Lawmakers calling on Secret Service to investigate Trump for suggesting someone shoot Clinton/judges. https://t.co/M9SpaFexYW
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) August 9, 2016
Statement from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook on Trump's suggestion that someone should shoot Clinton: pic.twitter.com/I3RIdPOV8U
— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) August 9, 2016