Hillary Clinton's thrashing of Bernie Sanders shows how far the politics have shifted on one major issue

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Clinton Takes Aim at Sanders on Gun Control


In 2008, Hillary Clinton told a memorable story on the campaign trail of how her father taught her how to shoot a gun.

Eight years later, on a prime-time debate stage again, the Democratic front-runner proudly called the National Rifle Association one of her "enemies."

When Democrats took the stage on Tuesday at the first official Democratic primary debate in almost eight years, it was clear the party had shifted dramatically on one issue in particular: gun control.

At the Democratic debate on Tuesday in Las Vegas, guns became a focus of the 2.5-hour-long contest. The difference this time, compared to prior elections: The top three Democrats made repeated attempts to tout their tough-on-gun records.

The front-runner Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) bragged about their negative ratings from the National Rifle Association. A lower-tier candidate, former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia), was still forced to concede that he still supported some gun control efforts, despite his "A" rating from the NRA during his time in Congress.

"We can't overstate how much of a sea change that is American politics, given how guns have been previously been portrayed as a third rail. Last night's debate shows how far the gun safety movement has come in the last few years," Erika Soto Lamb, the communications director for group Everytown for Gun Safety, told Business Insider.

Photos of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the Democratic debate:

26 PHOTOS
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton duking it out during Democratic debates
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Hillary Clinton's thrashing of Bernie Sanders shows how far the politics have shifted on one major issue
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt and Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton interrupt each other during the Univision, Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton argues a point as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan-Flint, Sunday, March 6, 2016, in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton makes a point as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, reatcs during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
MILWAUKEE, WI - FEBRUARY 11: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and Hillary Clinton participate in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on February 11, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.The debate is the final debate before the Nevada caucuses scheduled for February 20. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gestures towards Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, left, speaks at the NBC, YouTube Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. To the right is Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speak during a break at the NBC, YouTube Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
DURHAM, NH - FEBRUARY 04: Democratic presidential candidates former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during their MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate at the University of New Hampshire on February 4, 2016 in Durham, New Hampshire. This is the final debate for the Democratic candidates before the New Hampshire primaries. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton, right, speaks to Bernie Sanders during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bernie Sanders, left, offers an apology to Hillary Clinton during a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bernie Sanders, left, speaks to Hillary Clinton after a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bernie Sanders, left, makes a point as Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, walks by Bernie Sanders during a commercial break at a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2015, file photo, Bernie Sanders makes a point during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa. The Democratic presidential candidates are meeting for their third debate on Dec. 19, with tensions suddenly boiling between Hillary Clinton and her chief rival, Sanders. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley appear before a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, speak during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee take the stage before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, left, and Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, participate in the first Democratic presidential debate at the Wynn Las Vegas resort and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. While tonight's first Democratic presidential debate will probably lack the name-calling and sharp jabs of the Republican face-offs, there's still potential for strong disagreements between the party's leading contenders. Photographer: Josh Haner/Pool via Bloomberg
Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont,, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton shake hands at the end of a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - October 13: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton pictured at the 2015 CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, NV on October 13, 2015. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch/IPX
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One of the most memorable moments of the debate came less than 10 minutes into the affair. Clinton went after Sanders over his support for a controversial gun law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers and distributors from most legal liability if sued by victims of gun violence.

Asked if she thought Sanders' position on gun control went far enough, Clinton didn't hesitate.

"No, not at all. I think that we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day to gun violence," Clinton said.

"It's time that the entire country stood up to the NRA," Clinton added, as the audience cheered.

O'Malley, whose campaign was clearly focused on capitalizing on the issue before the debate, touted his own record banning assault weapons in Maryland. He mentioned that he invited the family members of one of the victims of a 2012 movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, to the debate. In 2012, it made news when President Barack Obama campaigning for his re-election, called for "common sense" reform.

But the politics of the issue within the Democratic Party have shifted tremendously in the last several years, as opinion among party voters has moved toward stricter controls on guns.

Both Clinton and O'Malley have rolled out comprehensive gun-control plans that propose universal background checks and a rollback of the liability shield for gun manufacturers and distributors for violent crimes committed with guns.

Photos of Hillary Clinton from over the years:

61 PHOTOS
Hillary Clinton through the years
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Hillary Clinton's thrashing of Bernie Sanders shows how far the politics have shifted on one major issue
A 1992 photo shows then Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton (L) and his wife Hillary (R) embracing. (Photo credit AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. St. Louis was the last stop on the Clinton-Gore campaign's bus tour. The crowd was estimated at 40,000. (Photo credit Tim Clary, AFP/Getty Images)
US President Bill Clinton's wife Hillary Rodham Clinton (l) in a picture taken 16 January 1993 in Little Rock, hugs her daughter Chelsea during a farewell address to the people of Arkansas at an airport rally. The Clinton family then left for Charlottesville, Virginia for the start of the planned bus trip to Washington, DC. (Photo credit J. David Ake, AFP/Getty Images)
First Lady Hillary Clinton (R) watches over as 12-year-old Chevon Perry (L) works on a lesson at P.S. 115 Elementary School 26 January 1993. Clinton made her first trip as first lady to New York to receive an award for her service to children. (Photo credit Tim Clary, AFP/Getty Images)
First Lady Hillary Clinton responds to applause, 12 February 1993, in Arlington, VA, as U.S. President Bill Clinton stands behind her. (Photo credit Robert Giroux, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton laughs as she is presented a bouquet of flowers by Japanee children 08 July 1993 at the Meguro waste incineration plant in Tokyo, Japan. Mrs. Clinton, maintaining a high profile during the G7 summit, is popular in Japan. (Photo credit David Nelson, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Bill Clinton (R) and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) listen to Karl Kregor explain, 16 September 1993 in Washington, D.C. why he is afraid of losng health isurance for his family.The Clintons met at the White House with citizens who shared problems they have had with the present health care system. Clinton is scheduled to present his health care plan to a joint session of congress 22 September. (Photo credit Paul Richards, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton responds 22 September 1993 to applause from a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. after President Bill Clinton saluted her as the 'talented navigator' for the national health plan he is proposing. Standing alongside the first lady is Dr. T. Berry Brazelton (L), a noted pediatrician and author. (Photo credit J. David Ake, AFP/Getty Images)
First Lady Hillary Clinton attends the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo by Clive Brunskill, Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Clinton (L) and Wife of French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, Marie-Josephe Balladur pose at the Hotel Matignon on June 7, 1994. (Photo credit Pascal Pavani, AFP/Getty Images)
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (C) smiles at a friend in the crowd 28 September 1994 as she stands next to Russian First Lady Naina Yeltsin (L) during a ceremony at the Library of Congress. Mrs. Yeltsin was accompanying her husband on his visit to Washington for a summit meeting with US President Bill Clinton. AFP YEARENDER (Photo credit Joshua Roberts, AFP/Getty Images)
US President Bill Clinton (R) and First Lady Hillary Clinton leave the White House for the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, 13 Janaury. President Clinton is waving a copy of the morning pool report on his activities, which was written as a poem. The poem begins ' The president jogged at Fort McNair....of him we saw not hide nor hair,' and ends with the slogan 'Burma Shave.' (Photo credit Paul Richards, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Clinton laughs as she listens to political humorist Bill Maher address the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association in Washington on March 14, 1995. (Photo credit Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Clinton (L) poses with 'Robo Crook'(R) a character from the television program Sesame Street at the White House in Washington, DC 26 June. Mrs. Clinton moderated a panel discussion on the role of Public Television in educating children. (Photo credit Jamal Wilson, AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton, wife of US President Bill Clinton, talks with Britain's Queen Elizabeth 30 November in the Grand Entrance Hall of Buckingham Palace in London. President Clinton and Hillary Clinton arrived 29 November morning for a three-day visit which will be dominated by the Northern Ireland peace process. (Photo credit John Stillwell, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Clinton greets guests after speaking at the Women's Leadership Forum at the World Trade Center 20 June in Boston, Massachusetts.The First Lady will be in Washington DC later 20 June for the arrival of the Olympic Torch at the White House. (Photo credit John Mottern, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton waves from the bullet-proof presidential limousine as she and US President Bill Clinton leave Sydney International Airport on November 19, 1996. The Clintons arrived in Australia from Hawaii at the start of a five-day working and holiday visit. A(Photo credit should read Torsten Blackwood, AFP/Getty Images)
US President Bill Clinton (L)and his wife Hillary listen to speakers at a coalition for America's Children event at the White House in Washington, on March 3, 1997. The Clintons will begin a series of television, radio and newspaper public service annoucements, urging Americans to help improve the lives of children. (Photo credit Joyce Naltchayan, AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton proudly shows the tea-pot which had been a gift from community worker Joyce McCartan on the Clintons' previous visit to Belfast, during her speech at the University of Ulster, in Belfast 31 October. The memorial speech, named after Joyce McCartan, who died last year, called on parties from both sides to make compromises for peace in the country. The American First Lady is on a whistle-stop tour visiting Dublin, Belfast and London in three days. (Photo credit Alan Lewis, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Clinton talks with NBC TV anchorwoman Katie Couric (L)10 September during an event in the East Room of the White House promoting colon cancer awareness and prevention. Hillary Clinton announced a new research grant to fight colon cancer and unveiled a new public service announcement to promote prevention. (Photo credit Tim Sloan, AFP/Getty Images)
US President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea tour the Forbidden City in Beijing, as a Chinese security agent (rear) looks on 28 June during their 9 day official trip to China. The three later toured the Great Wall. (Photo credit Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton listens to speakers during ceremonies 11 January to unveil the new Dolley Madison commemorative silver dollar coin at the White House in Washington, DC. The coin, designed by Tiffany and Company is available at the US Mint and celebrates the life, achievements and 150th anniversary of Dolley Madison's death. (Photo credit Tim Sloan, AFP/Getty Images)
First Lady Hillary Clinton works the crowd as she arrives at Prior Aviation Services in Buffalo, New York, 07 February, 2000. Mrs. Clinton, who officially announced her run for US Senate 06 February, 2000, made Buffalo her fisrt campaign stop. ((Photo credit Don Emmert, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (R) announces the formation of the Millenium Trails Celebration Committee 19 April, 1999 at the Central Park Boathouse in New York, New York. Millenium Trails is a national initiative to create and enhance hiking, cultural and other trails across the country. It partners the White House Millenium Council, the Department of Transportation and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. (Photo credit Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images)
US President Bill Clinton (L) and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (R) wait on the South Portico for the arrival of King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia 23 February 2000 at the White House in Washington, DC. The Clintons hosted an arrival ceremony for their visit. (Photo credit Stephen Jaffe, AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady and New York US Senate candidate Hillary Clinton waves to the crowd as she arrives on the stage at the Democratic National Convention 14 August 2000 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo credit Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senate candidate and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton gives a thumbs-up sign to supporters at the Hispanic Day Parade October 8, 2000 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers via Getty)
US First Lady Hillary Clinton smiles during a press conference in New York 08 November, 2000. Clinton defeated Congressman Rick Lazio to win the US Senate seat for New York being vacated by Patrick Moynihan. AFP PHOTO Doug KANTER (Photo credit Doug Kanter, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator-elect, First Lady Hillary Clinton walks through the U.S. Capitol during an orientation day for new senators December 5, 2000 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Newsmakers via Getty)
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during Labor Secretary-designate Elaine Chao's confirmation hearing January 24, 2001 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers via Getty)
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) attends a press conference to address the equal pay act June 12, 2001 Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The AFL-CIO''s Working Women Working Together held a news conference to introduce a campaign for legislation to step up enforcement of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
New York Senator and former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, signs copies of her autobiography, 'Living History' at Waterstone?s bookstore on July 3, 2003 in London, England. In her autobiography, Clinton reveals her presidential ambitions and her thoughts on Monica Lewinsky. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton appears with Jon Stewart during 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart' at the Daily Show Studios October 8, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images for The Daily Show)
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) attends a news conference in front of the United Nations to denounce the International Court of Justice's recent decision on Israel's security fence July 9, 2004 in New York City. The International Court in The Hague has ruled that the barrier Israel has nearly completed in the West Bank violates international law, and the court ruled that the United Nations should take action to stop its construction. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) speaks while former U.S. President Bill Clinton listens during a visit to the New York Buddhist Vihara December 31, 2004 in the Queens borough of New York City. The Clintons toured the temple where volunteers have been collecting donations for victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) speaks at a Democratic forum on Social Security reform at Pace University March 4, 2005 in New York City. A group of Democratic Senators spoke at the forum to protest U.S. President George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) stands near her portrait during an unveiling ceremony at the Smithsonian April 24, 2006 in Washington DC. President Clinton's portrait will hang in the National Portrait Gallery's 'America's President's' exhibit. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton watches a speaker on the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting September 22, 2006 in New York City. A large array of notables in the worlds of politics, human rights, and philanthropy have gathered in the New York for three days of seminars and pledges on global issues. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) speaks during a post primary rally at Southern New Hampshire University January 8, 2007 in Manchester, New Hampshire. After losing to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Edwards in Iowa, Clinton (D-NY) won New Hampshire, the first of the nation's presidential primaries. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
US Senator Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea are seen at the lectern during a soundcheck at the Democratic National Convention 2008 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, on August 26, 2008. Clinton takes the stage tonight vowing to unite Democrats after her primary battle with Barack Obama, on the second day of the convention that will crown him as White House nominee. The DNC is held 25-28 August. (Photo credit Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attend a campaign rally together at Amway Arena October 20, 2008 in Orlando, Florida. Obama continues to campaign against his challenger, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) while Election Day begins to draw near. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Former US President Bill Clinton (L) and US Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton (R) attend the inauguration of US President Barack Obama at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2009. (Photo credit Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) is sworn in as her husband former President Bill Clinton (2nd L), and her daughter Chelsea (R) look on during a ceremonial swearing-in at the State Department February 2, 2009 in Washington, DC. Clinton is the 67th Secretary of State of the United States of America. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a press conference on February 21, 2009 in Beijing, China. Clinton is on a three day visit to the Chinese capital, as part of her first diplomatic tour to Asia. (Photo by Guang Niu/Pool/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on the US vision for Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement at the East-West Center in Honolulu January 12, 2010. (Photo credit Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, smiles during a press conference after Middle East Quartet talks in Moscow on March 19, 2010. The International Quartet on the Middle East urged Israel to freeze all settlement activity and expressed deep concern about the situation in Gaza, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. (Photo credit Yuri Kadobnov, AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks before signing the US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange agreement at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on May 25, 2010. The United States and China were wrapping up strategic talks aimed at smoothing out differences on currency and trade issues, as Washington presses Beijing to get tough on North Korea. (Photo credit Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to Ambassador-Designate to Russia Michael McFaul during his swearing-in ceremony at the State Department January 10, 2011 in Washington, DC. McFaul is President Barack Obama's top adviser on Russia and has been involved in the reset of relations between the two countries and the signing of the New START treaty. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the South Sudan International Engagement Conference December 14, 2011 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. The two-day conference was to highlight the national development vision of South Sudan and the opportunities for investment in the country. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters during a joint press conference with Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani at the Department of State January 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) shakes hands with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine el-Othmani prior to meetings at the State Department in Washington, DC, on March 15, 2012. (Photo credit Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles during a joint press conference with Australian Foreign Minister arr following their meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2012. (Photo credit Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill January 23, 2013 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers questioned Clinton about the security failures during the September 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Vital Voices Global Awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington on April 2, 2013. The event honors 'women leaders from around the world who are the unsung heroines to strengthen democracy, increase economic opportunity, and protect human rights,' according to the group's website. (Photo credit Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks about the situation in Syria after meeting with US President Barack Obama, prior to remarks about US efforts to combat wildlife trafficking at a White House forum at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on September 9, 2013. (Photo credit Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage at the Pennsylvania Conference For Women 2013 at Philadelphia Convention Center on November 1, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women)
Hillary Clinton attends the New-York Historical Society 2014 History Makers Gala at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on November 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton Book Signing For 'Hard Choices' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on June 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote address during the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women on February 24, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a keynote address to thousands of women in attendance for the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on stage during a ceremony to induct her into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 16, 2015 in New York City. The Irish America Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 and recognizes exceptional figures in the Irish American community. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
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Clinton's anti-gun rhetoric was especially notable, considering how carefully Democrats have treaded on the issue over the last several election cycles. After former Vice President Al Gore lost the 2000 election, Democrats pointed to his support for the assault-weapons ban signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994.

In 2008, then-Sen. Obama mocked Clinton's story about learning how to shoot with her father, saying that she was "talking like she's Annie Oakley!" In 2012, even after the Aurora shooting, guns did not take center stage.

Tuesday's debate gave evidence of a tectonic shift.

Prior to the debate, the most popular questions submitted to CNN online both came from the family members of victims of gun violence.

And a Google Trends analysis released after the debate showed that gun control was the fifth-most searched issue before the contest began, but jumped to second once it was over. Many searches likely were the results of candidates using the NRA as a convenient rhetorical punching bag — the organization was mentioned 14 times during the 2.5-hour broadcast.

"I worked here in 2012, and I know how hard it was to get the candidates to address gun violence," Soto Lamb told Business Insider earlier this year. "The candidates have been talking about guns far more than they did then."

NOW WATCH: Here's how many people die from terrorism compared to gun violence

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SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton seized her first opportunity to rip Bernie Sanders

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