An N.H. Mom's Perspective on Gun Control in the 2016 Election

Jul 28, 2016

Seven mothers took up the stage at the Democratic National Convention to speak out against gun violence in America. In addition to voicing support for Democratic nominee for President Hillary Clinton, they condemned alleged police brutality and racism in the justice system. They also advocated for what they called “Common-Sense” gun control. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, said, “Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to comfort a grieving mother. She has the courage to lead the fight for common-sense gun legislation.”

Gun legislation has been on the mind of Robin Skudlarek. She’s a volunteer with the New Hampshire chapter of “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.” The organization was started by a group of mothers after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. Skudlarek is running as a democrat for a seat in the New Hampshire house. She joined NHPR’s Peter Biello to discuss issues of gun control in the 2016 election.

Sybrina Fulton said in her speech that Hillary Clinton would work for common-sense gun legislation if she were elected President. What does that phrase “common-sense” gun legislation mean to you?

What it means to me, as a mom, is having universal background checks for all gun sales, which we don’t currently have. Even though 90% of the American people polled would like to see that happen, we still can’t seem to get it passed. I think people that are on a terror watch-list and can’t fly shouldn’t be allowed to purchase guns. I want to be looking at how we keep our kids safe. That’s really why I got involved with this.

What do you make of Donald Trump’s policy on guns, which supports concealed carry and also seems to criticize the current background checks system, but for different reasons than you?

I think Donald Trump is going down the NRA’s checklist. And then he continues to tell lies: that Hillary Clinton wants to get rid of the Second Amendment, which is not true, and that she wants to take away all your guns, which is not true. So I don’t put much stock in what Donald Trump has to say because he won’t even talk to any of the Moms that show up at any of his rallies. He just literally wants to ignore the issue and just say, “I’m for the Second Amendment.”

Do you think Hillary Clinton could bring the kind of common-sense legislation that you are speaking of?

I really do. Because for the first time, a Presidential candidate actually has that on their platform. She began talking about that right at the beginning when her campaign started.

It’s a big issue in our country, and I don’t always understand why. Because when you poll people nationally, in New Hampshire, people in the NRA, Republicans, and gun owners, they all want to see background checks on all gun purchases. We want to close the loopholes in gun sales. Now, you can buy a gun at a gun show without a background check, and you can buy one online. Hillary Clinton took that on, even though she didn’t have to add that to her campaign in the beginning. I think that’s a really important step.

Our Moms group is in every single state. We are showing up at rallies, we are calling our legislatures, and we are trying to pass legislation. We try to hold anybody accountable that isn’t a gun sense politician. We are willing to support any politician, on any side of the aisle, that is for common-sense gun laws.

What do you make of the argument that it really is only the law-abiding citizens who would abide by a common-sense background check policy, and that criminals would still use underground methods to obtain weapons? For example, they would get them online, or they could steal them from law-abiding owners; what do you make of the argument that the background check system, even under a common-sense system as you describe, would still fall short?

Just because we can’t stop every person that might break the law, that doesn’t mean we don’t still put forth legislation. We have laws for speeding and people still speed, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have laws. To me, that argument doesn’t make any sense.

If we can close the loopholes, we can start to take the guns out of the hands of dangerous people. I think it’s a nonsensical argument, because it’s saying, “Because we couldn’t stop everybody that might get their hands on guns, we shouldn’t pass any legislation.”

Most gun legislation, when it is passed, is passed at the state level. You are running for a seat in the New Hampshire House; what would you like to see happen at the state level?

New Hampshire has pretty relaxed gun laws. We have a local State Legislator that worked with the Republicans to allow us to be able to carry guns into the Statehouse. To me, I don’t feel that I would be safer having people walking around next to me carrying weapons. In fact, I would feel less safe.

Again, you can go into a gun show, show your license (I guess? I don’t know; I’m not a gun owner) and you can come out buying guns. And online purchases are absolutely insane. It’s crazy how we can purchase such a deadly weapon just with the click of a mouse.

Maggie Hassan has been a big proponent of gun control. She’s vetoed dangerous gun bills that have come up, so we support her. I would like to be up there and see what we can get done. I’m running in a very Republican town—Londonderry.

All of the fifth district’s representatives are currently Republican.

Yes.