Donald Trump has been saying for months that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wants to "abolish the Second Amendment," but now the Republican presidential nominee has gone even further.
At a rally in Wilmington, N.C., on Tuesday afternoon, Trump repeated that charge and then appeared to many observers to suggest taking up arms against his rival.
"Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish — the Second Amendment," Trump said. "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know."
You can watch that portion of Trump's speech here:
The response from Clinton and her supporters was swift. Almost immediately, the pro-Clinton superPAC Priorities USA Action e-mailed out a clip of Trump's comments with the subject heading, "Donald Trump Just Suggested That Someone Shoot Hillary Clinton," plus a one-sentence message: "THIS IS NOT OK."
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement, "This is simple—what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to the be President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."
But the Trump campaign was quick to dispute that interpretation. In an emailed statement with the subject line, "Trump Campaign Statement on Dishonest Media," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said:
"It's called the power of unification – 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."
Trump reiterated that explanation in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday: "This is a political movement. This is a strong, powerful movement, the Second Amendment. Hillary wants to take your guns away."
CNN commentator and Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany explained it this way:
"I think he's referring to the fact that the National Rifle Association is the most powerful lobby, hands-down, in the United States. So if anyone can stop a very anti-Second Amendment agenda, it would be the NRA and the Second Amendment folks."
Clinton has not called for abolishing the Second Amendment. What she has called for is tougher gun regulations – including expanded background checks and allowing families of victims of gun violence to sue gun manufacturers or dealers.
Hillary Clinton's twitter account sent out a message from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was badly injured in a shooting at a constituent outreach event she held in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011 that killed six people.
The U.S. Secret Service, charged with protecting both nominees, said on Tuesday evening that it was "aware" of Trump's comments, but the agency did not comment further.