The frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 told an audience Tuesday that gun owners were akin to terrorists, arguing that access to “automatic weapons” threatens the majority of Americans who don’t own a firearm.

“We cannot let a minority of people, and that is what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a “Town Hall” meeting sponsored by CNN. “We’re going to have to do a better job protecting the vast majority of our citizens … from that very, very, very small group that is unfortunately prone to violence and now with automatic weapons can wreak so much more violence than they ever could have before.”

Clinton went on to say she was in favor of renewing the national “assault weapons” ban — which expired in 2004 — and enacting similar ban on “high capacity magazines.”

“I don’t think any parent, or any person should have to fear about their child going to school or going to college because someone for whatever reason, psychological, emotional, political, ideological, whatever, could possibly enter that school property with an automatic weapon and murder innocent children, students, teachers,” Clinton said. “I will speak out [on gun control] no matter what role I find myself in.”

The harsh rhetoric is a sharp departure from Clinton’s typically cautious approach as she tests the political waters for a potential 2016 presidential run. The former New York senator and First Lady is on a multi-week media tour to promote her new book “Hard Choices,” which chronicles her time as President Obama’s first Secretary of State.

Despite her usually measured tone on most contentious issues, this is not the first time Clinton has taken a hard line on gun ownership as she mulls a presidential run. In May Clinton told a conference that widespread gun ownership “wasn’t in the best interest of the vast majority of the people.”

“I think again we're way out of balance. We've got to rein in what has become almost an article of faith that almost anybody can have a gun anywhere at any time,” she said. “At the rate we're going, we're going to have so many people with guns in settings where … [they] decide they have a perfect right to defend themselves against the gum chewer or the cell-phone talker.”

Clinton criticized lawmakers who failed to pass a bill introduced after the murders at Sandy Hook that would have expanded background checks to private sales, among other new restrictions.

“I’m well aware that this is a hot political subject … and we need to thrash this out in the political arena,” Clinton told the CNN audience. “But the vast majority of Americans, even law-abiding gun owners, want background checks that work [and] information that is shared immediately. …”