Hillary Clinton tears into Bernie Sanders for not stepping up on gun control

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in NY, Clinton Hammers Sanders on Guns

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — A somber Hillary Clinton took presidential primary rival Bernie Sanders to task on Monday for not doing enough to fight for stronger firearms regulations, challenging her fellow Democrat at the center of a group of women who lost loved ones to guns.

"We cannot go on like this," the frontrunner said at the Landmark on Main Street, at an event hosted by Long Island Rep. Steve Israel. "If anything else were killing 33,000 people are year, we would be mobilized."

READ MORE: A Tearful Obama Announces New Executive Actions on Gun Control

Clinton took Sanders to task while speaking of the Brady Law. The 1993 gun control law, named for the aide to Ronald Reagan shot in an attempt on the then-president's life, "was a very tough legislative battle," Clinton said.

"When Sen. Sanders was in the House, he voted against the Brady Bill five times," she said pointedly.

"I was very proud when my husband passed and signed the Brady Bill," Clinton continued, to applause.

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Hillary Clinton potential running mates, VPs
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Hillary Clinton tears into Bernie Sanders for not stepping up on gun control

Tim Kaine

The junior Democratic Senator from the swing state of Virginia could be a strategic selection for Hillary. Kaine also served as the governor of Virginia from 2006- 2010.

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Warren

The current U.S. Senator from Massachusetts is popular among progressive Democrats, and some even tried to draft her to run for president herself in 2016. 

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sherrod Brown

Insiders believe that the senior U.S. Senator from Ohio could help Clinton increase her popularity with working-class voters, a group she has yet to win in a big way so far in primary contests.  

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cory Booker

The U.S. Senator from New Jersey is both youthful and charismatic and would add racial diversity to a Clinton ticket. 

(Photo by KK Ottesen for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Tom Perez

The current U.S. Secretary of Labor is considered a sleeper pick by many Democrats because he is not well known outside of D.C., but some believe his strength and popularity among union workers and other progressive groups could be an asset to Clinton's ticket. 

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Julian Castro

The former mayor of San Antonio and current U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has been rumored as a possible running mate for Clinton for months, but in May he said in an interview that the Clinton campaign hasn't talked to him about the role.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Amy Klobuchar

Insiders confirmed that Clinton is definitely considering a woman as her vice presidential pick, and as U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Klobuchar has a seat Democrats would likely maintain. She's also been described as "by far" the most popular politician in her state. 

 (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Bernie Sanders

The Independent from Vermont has become Hillary Clinton's primary rival for the Democratic nomination, garnering a surprising amount of support. Bringing Sanders onto the ticket could help to unite both sets of supporters who have been split in Democratic primaries.

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Martin O'Malley

A former 2016 rival of Hillary Clinton, and former Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley could help bring some executive experience, along with a slight youthful boost to the ticket.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tom Vilsack

The Secretary of Agriculture since 2009, Tom Vilsack also served as the governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. Vilsack could bring some governing experience along with swing state influence.  

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers his annual State of the State address to lawmakers and guests, inside the state legislature, in Denver, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Hickenlooper called upon Republicans and Democrats to return to an era of civility and compromise in his address to the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-led House. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Evan Bayh 

Evan Bayh could bring a more right leaning brand of politics to the ticket. Bayh previously served as the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011, and also as the 46th Governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997.  

Joe Biden

While the likelihood of him agreeing to take on the veep job again might be low, Biden's popularity among Democrats would likely boost Clinton's chances. 

(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Bill Clinton

Hillary's husband is technically allowed to serve in the job, and some legal experts even think he'd be able to take office if necessary. Unfortunately for the diehard Clinton supporters, a Clinton-Clinton ticket will probably be a dream that never comes true. 

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Clinton called her own gun control platform in the 2016 cycle a "common sense agenda" that's about saving lives, not taking people's firearms away.

Gun control and Second Amendment rights are issues that resonate in New York City and statewide, where the candidates will be duking it out in a pivotal primary election April 19.

Among those joining Clinton at the Long Island event was the daughter of the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 staff members and children were massacred in 2012.

Tackling gun violence: New York was the first state to pass a package of heightened gun control laws — the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act — following the slaughter in Connecticut.

Among Clinton's proposals: Closing the so-called gun show, online and Charleston loopholes — the latter having to do with the time allowed to conduct background checks.

She also supports stripping gun companies of protections from legal liability.

"I voted against that. Then-Sen. Obama voted against it. Sen. Sanders voted for it," Clinton said, "and to this day, he has defended it repeatedly and persistently."

Sanders represents Vermont — a largely rural, gun-loving state — a fact he's cited in explaining his gun control record. It was a defense Clinton brought up directly.

"Here's what I want you to know: Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out-of-state. The state that has the highest per capita number of those guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from Vermont," Clinton said, setting off chuckles and murmurs from the audience.

"So this is not, 'Oh, no, I live in a rural state. We don't have any of these problems.' This is — you know what? It's easy to cross borders. Criminals, domestic abusers, traffickers, people who [are] dangerously mentally ill — they cross borders too, and sometimes they do it to get the guns they use," she said.

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"This has to become a voting issue for those of us who want to save lives."

Some Sanders supporters are already taking exception to critiques of the Vermonter (by way of Brooklyn) and his track record on gun legislation.

Former New York state Sen. Thomas Duane, who backed Clinton in 2008 but now supports Sanders, said in a recent phone interview he considers it "disingenuous of Secretary Clinton to portray Sen. Sanders as someone who wants to see illegal guns in an urban environment."

"It's beneath her," Duane said.

Luke Brinker contributed reporting.

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