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Hillary Clinton on Saturday echoed President Barack Obama's call for "common sense" gun reform to help prevent another mass shooting after the deadly rampage on a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
"It makes no sense that bipartisan legislation for universal background checks would fail despite overwhelming public support," Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, said at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.
She said that as a former resident of Arkansas and representative of New York she understands that "gun ownership is part of the fabric of a lot of communities."
"But I also know that we can have common sense gun reforms," she said.
But in America, Clinton added, the challenge is that "race remains a deep fault line." Police say the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday that left nine dead was a hate crime and a white supremacist website appears to belong to the 21-year-old arrested gunman, Dylann Roof.
"It’s tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this into an isolated incident," but "our problem is not all kooks and Klansmen," Clinton said. "It’s the jokes that go unchallenged. It's the off-hand comment about not wanting 'that kind of person' in the neighborhood."
Clinton, who was campaigning in South Carolina a day before the church massacre, said the country can learn plenty from the way those affected by the shooting responded with mercy.
“On Friday, one by one, grieving parents and siblings stood up in court and looked at the young man who had taken so much from them and said ‘I forgive you'," Clinton said. "Their act of mercy was more stunning than his act of cruelty."
In a departure from politics to advocate for something that cannot be voted on or approved, Clinton also commended those who were at the Bible study and hosted the accused shooter in their church.
"During their last hours, nine people of faith welcomed a stranger in prayer and fellowship," Clinton said. "That’s humanity at its best, that’s also America at its best."