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Clinton: US must face 'hard truths'

Published 19/06/2015

Hillary Clinton spoke out following the Charleston church shootings (AP)
Hillary Clinton spoke out following the Charleston church shootings (AP)

America has to face "hard truths" about guns and race in the wake of the shooting at a historic black church in South Carolina that left nine dead, US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has said.

"How many innocent people in our country, from little children to church members to movie theatre attendees, how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?" the Democrat said during a speech in Las Vegas, referring to mass shootings at a Connecticut primary school and a Colorado cinema.

Mrs Clinton spoke at a meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, an event that afforded her the opportunity to campaign before a largely supportive crowd of Hispanic politicians.

But campaign politics were overshadowed by the murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Mrs Clinton campaigned in Charleston earlier and said she learned of the attack after she landed in Las Vegas.

As did President Barack Obama earlier, Mrs Clinton said the latest incident involving the killing of several people required a reckoning with the country's history of gun violence.

"In order to make sense of it we have to be honest," she said. "We have to face hard truths about race, violence, guns and division."

The Charleston shooting suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, was described as an apparent "disaffected white supremacist" by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. The Justice Department said it had started a hate crime investigation.

The prospect that race played a role in the shooting hung over Mrs Clinton's remarks. Speaking of critics of immigrants, she said: "When I hear words of hatred and anger directed at any of our fellow human beings I ask myself, 'What is motivating that?'."

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