NEW YORK, N.Y. (CBS DC) — Former President Bill Clinton said that an increasingly violent climate in the U.S. has been exacerbated by stand-your-ground laws, the NRA, and those who only surround themselves with people who agree with their opinions – but he rejects that the country is more racist than it was in the past.
Speaking with CNN at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, Clinton spoke on a series of national issues, specifically noting issues dealing with the National Rifle Association and a violent U.S. climate.
“I think we have enhanced the risks by changing the environment, basically, because it seems we bought the NRA’s theory that we would all be safer if everybody in this audience had a gun that was a concealed weapon,” Clinton said. “Then if one of them felt threatened by another, they could stand up right here and stand their ground. And we could watch the whole saga unfold. That is what happens.”
Clinton addressed a few high-profile, racially-charged cases from the past years – the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial and the more recent Ferguson shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. But the former president rejected the notion that these cases indicate that the U.S. is more racist than it has been in the past, although he said some parts of the country are “playing with [racism’s] darker possibilities.”
Clinton noted that the Ferguson shooting by police officer Darren Wilson was indicative of the larger problem that the city’s police force and political officials are not representative of the community’s population.
“You can’t have a community that is more than two-thirds African-American where only one in six city council people are African-American and only three out of 60-plus police are African-American,” Clinton told Erin Burnett. “You’ve got to have some effort to have ties to the community.”
“I actually think we’re less racist, less sexist, less homophobic than we used to be,” Clinton said. “I think our big problem today is we don’t want to be around anybody who disagrees with us. And I think that in some ways can be the worst silo of all to be held up in.”
Clinton added: “I think whenever people are insecure, they tend to return to home base psychologically. We tend to want to be with our own, however we define that. … I think that’s what is really at the root of many of our problems today.”