WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that the nation's gun culture had gotten "way out of balance" and that the United States needed to rein in the notion that "anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime."

The former secretary of state and potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said the idea that anyone could have a gun was not in the "best interest of the vast majority of people." She said that approach did not conflict with the rights of people to own firearms.

Clinton waded into the polarizing issue of gun politics during an appearance at the National Council for Behavioral Health conference in Oxon Hill, Md., pointing to recent shootings that involved teens who had been playing loud music and chewing gum and a separate incident involving the typing of text messages in a movie theater.

"I think again we're way out of balance. I think that we've got to rein in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime," Clinton said. "And I don't believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people. And I think you can say that and still support the right of people to own guns."

Legislation pushed by President Obama last year that would have expanded background checks for firearm purchases to gun shows and online sales failed to clear the Senate.

If Clinton runs for president, her views on gun control would clash with Republicans, who have largely opposed efforts to tighten gun laws. During a recent National Rifle Association conference in Indianapolis, GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a potential 2016 candidate, said Clinton and Vice President Biden considered the Second Amendment to be little more than "a phrase from a speech writer."

Clinton told attendees at the mental health conference that "at the rate we're going, we're going to have so many people with guns everywhere, fully licensed, fully validated" in settings like theaters, where shootings have arisen over seemingly mundane things like cellphone use.

Clinton also told attendees she was still considering her political future, saying she was someone "who has to really mull things over."

"So stay tuned," Clinton said. "When I know, you'll know."