Trump's 2nd Amendment Problem

I don't much doubt that Donald Trump is pro-gun rights, at least far more so than Hillary Clinton.  Supposedly he has a concealed carry permit, and his sons are firearms enthusiasts.  But in the midst of a hotly contested election, against an opponent and a hostile national media who will afford no quarter, Trump has at least twice undermined his 2nd Amendment bona fides.  This has provided Hillary room to attack, distracted national attention from yet more Clinton corruption, and once again damaged Trump's attempts to appear presidential, after barely surviving a disastrous couple of weeks where he hurt his own campaign with unforced errors.

Most recently Trump, while credibly arguing that Hillary would effectively gut the 2nd Amendment, suggested that 2nd Amendment supporters could "act" against Hillary, arguably implying that some gun rights advocates might attempt to violently eliminate the Democrat.  Trump and his campaign have attempted to explain away the comment as referring to the political power of the gun rights movement, but the explanation is unconvincing, and regardless, his campaign has once again been needlessly damaged.  That gaffe allowed the mainstream media to conflate that comment with the far more serious revelation of proof of Hillary's pay-to-play activities at the State Department, as well as painting Trump and his supporters as maniacal.  The mainstream press is practically gleefully reporting that the Secret Service was compelled to question the Republican candidate about the comment.

Besides Trump's ongoing urge to run his mouth like he's at an office cocktail party rather than in a winner-take-all election is Trump's fundamental misunderstanding of American gun culture as most Americans know it.  Not only did Trump make that recent comment about 2nd Amendment folks acting against Clinton, but several months ago he also made a revealing comment when he acted abashed that his own sons owned a lot of guns. 

To some extent, this is not entirely Trump's fault, having been raised as a privileged plutocrat in Manhattan.  His background is about as divorced from that of the typical middle-American gun owner as possible, his own carry permit notwithstanding.  And it is the cocktail party dynamic that reveals Trump's problem.  Trump may well support gun rights, like to carry a firearm himself, and love his gun-collecting sons.  But he's inclined to reflect a rather elitist blue-state attitude toward the whole thing.   

It's understandable on a personal level for those of us who live in deeply blue states and interact on a daily basis with deeply blue people.  Tell your neighbor with a "Feel the Bern" sticker on the bumper that you own several dozen guns, and you're liable to invoke a massive case of hyperventilation in the middle of a dog walk and not get invited to the neighborhood cookout.  It's quite easy to laugh off the issue with comments just like what Trump made in order to appear "normal." 

"Sure, I own a few guns, but I'm not like one of those gun nuts who might want to bump off Hillary" you might say between sips of chardonnay. 

Or "yeah, I own three or four guns, but it's not as if I own twenty or thirty like some of those gun nuts who think the zombie apocalypse is coming tomorrow!"

And so you do get invited to the party, and everyone thinks you're kinda cool because you actually do own some scary guns, but you're not one of those dangerous nutcases who live in places like Arizona.  And while succumbing to this pressure is understandable in a very human sort of way, it is also unprincipled and arguably somewhat cowardly, which unfortunately are also very human traits. 

Now, a typical east- or west-coast gun-owning householder may engage in such exchanges all the time, without causing the national body politic much if any damage.  However, if you are the Republican nominee for president, running against an avowed anti-gun Democrat, such comments are destructive in the extreme, because they give comfort to gun controllers and also reveal a fundamental lack of understanding of American gun rights.

Responsible pro-2nd Amendment people, whether they own one gun or one hundred guns, are not the people going around gunning each other down on urban streets.  Nor are they shooting up offices and clubs in the name of Allah.  In fact, they are extremely respectful of their firearms and don't kid around about them, any more than they kid around about their chainsaws. 

Trump doesn't seem to get that and still sometimes acts as if he's rubbing shoulders with Michael Bloomberg on the Upper West Side between portions of caviar and bubbly.  He still doesn't seem to recognize that he is in a zero-sum game, where every mistake or misstatement undermines his candidacy and lets Hillary off the hook on some other issue or another.  On guns as on other issues, it might not be fair, but neither is life in general.  The mainstream media is against him, as is a goodly portion of his own party.  Trump, silver spoon still stuck in his palate, still hasn't got that message.   

I don't much doubt that Donald Trump is pro-gun rights, at least far more so than Hillary Clinton.  Supposedly he has a concealed carry permit, and his sons are firearms enthusiasts.  But in the midst of a hotly contested election, against an opponent and a hostile national media who will afford no quarter, Trump has at least twice undermined his 2nd Amendment bona fides.  This has provided Hillary room to attack, distracted national attention from yet more Clinton corruption, and once again damaged Trump's attempts to appear presidential, after barely surviving a disastrous couple of weeks where he hurt his own campaign with unforced errors.

Most recently Trump, while credibly arguing that Hillary would effectively gut the 2nd Amendment, suggested that 2nd Amendment supporters could "act" against Hillary, arguably implying that some gun rights advocates might attempt to violently eliminate the Democrat.  Trump and his campaign have attempted to explain away the comment as referring to the political power of the gun rights movement, but the explanation is unconvincing, and regardless, his campaign has once again been needlessly damaged.  That gaffe allowed the mainstream media to conflate that comment with the far more serious revelation of proof of Hillary's pay-to-play activities at the State Department, as well as painting Trump and his supporters as maniacal.  The mainstream press is practically gleefully reporting that the Secret Service was compelled to question the Republican candidate about the comment.

Besides Trump's ongoing urge to run his mouth like he's at an office cocktail party rather than in a winner-take-all election is Trump's fundamental misunderstanding of American gun culture as most Americans know it.  Not only did Trump make that recent comment about 2nd Amendment folks acting against Clinton, but several months ago he also made a revealing comment when he acted abashed that his own sons owned a lot of guns. 

To some extent, this is not entirely Trump's fault, having been raised as a privileged plutocrat in Manhattan.  His background is about as divorced from that of the typical middle-American gun owner as possible, his own carry permit notwithstanding.  And it is the cocktail party dynamic that reveals Trump's problem.  Trump may well support gun rights, like to carry a firearm himself, and love his gun-collecting sons.  But he's inclined to reflect a rather elitist blue-state attitude toward the whole thing.   

It's understandable on a personal level for those of us who live in deeply blue states and interact on a daily basis with deeply blue people.  Tell your neighbor with a "Feel the Bern" sticker on the bumper that you own several dozen guns, and you're liable to invoke a massive case of hyperventilation in the middle of a dog walk and not get invited to the neighborhood cookout.  It's quite easy to laugh off the issue with comments just like what Trump made in order to appear "normal." 

"Sure, I own a few guns, but I'm not like one of those gun nuts who might want to bump off Hillary" you might say between sips of chardonnay. 

Or "yeah, I own three or four guns, but it's not as if I own twenty or thirty like some of those gun nuts who think the zombie apocalypse is coming tomorrow!"

And so you do get invited to the party, and everyone thinks you're kinda cool because you actually do own some scary guns, but you're not one of those dangerous nutcases who live in places like Arizona.  And while succumbing to this pressure is understandable in a very human sort of way, it is also unprincipled and arguably somewhat cowardly, which unfortunately are also very human traits. 

Now, a typical east- or west-coast gun-owning householder may engage in such exchanges all the time, without causing the national body politic much if any damage.  However, if you are the Republican nominee for president, running against an avowed anti-gun Democrat, such comments are destructive in the extreme, because they give comfort to gun controllers and also reveal a fundamental lack of understanding of American gun rights.

Responsible pro-2nd Amendment people, whether they own one gun or one hundred guns, are not the people going around gunning each other down on urban streets.  Nor are they shooting up offices and clubs in the name of Allah.  In fact, they are extremely respectful of their firearms and don't kid around about them, any more than they kid around about their chainsaws. 

Trump doesn't seem to get that and still sometimes acts as if he's rubbing shoulders with Michael Bloomberg on the Upper West Side between portions of caviar and bubbly.  He still doesn't seem to recognize that he is in a zero-sum game, where every mistake or misstatement undermines his candidacy and lets Hillary off the hook on some other issue or another.  On guns as on other issues, it might not be fair, but neither is life in general.  The mainstream media is against him, as is a goodly portion of his own party.  Trump, silver spoon still stuck in his palate, still hasn't got that message.