Having lost ground on their patented niche issues like abortion and gay rights, the 2016 version of the Republican Presidential cavalcade has decided that defending the 2nd Amendment will play well with the ‘base’ if only because liberals are usually considered to be anti-gun. The gun ‘issue’ was first injected into the campaign by Trump-o, who claimed that an armed citizen could have stopped the murder of two television journalists in Virginia, a terribly ugly incident that was caught on video and tv. Since then, if you’re running for President as a Republican, you can’t make a public speech without making some reference to supporting the 2nd Amendment, even if what you say has little to do with the facts.
And the 2nd Amendment comment that is least aligned with the facts popped out of the mouth of Mike Huckabee during an interview on a right-wing video channel Newsmax, during which he called for gun dealers to refuse to follow any new Executive Order issued by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because “the more we surrender the Constitution, the more Obama keeps his power growing.” And since we all know that Obama’s real plan is to convert America into a radical, Islamic state, the more we need to vigilantly guard our Constitutional freedoms, in particular the freedom to own guns.
Actually, the stupidity started with the show host Steve Malzberg, who asked Huckabee to comment on a story which said that Obama was going to issue an Executive Order “to require gun shop owners to conduct background checks.” To which Huckabee replied, “There should certainly be an absolute, unapologetic – just complete ignoring of such an order by those gun-shop owners, because the President can’t make law.” I happen to own a gun shop, and if the President issues an Executive Order which in any way changes the ATF regulations under which I operate, either I follow the new regs or I can close my shop down. But let’s first get back to what Malzberg actually said.
Malzberg’s statement about what Obama was planning to do through Executive Order had absolutely nothing to do with what Obama has been saying at all. Federally-licensed gun dealers operating in their places of business (duh, that’s what a gun shop happens to be) have been required to run NICS-background checks on all over-the-counter gun transfers since the Brady bill went into effect in 1998. What Obama has been talking about is the fact that gun owners often sell numerous guns either at shows, or on the internet, or face-to-face, and these activities should be more closely regulated because here is the point at which guns get into the ‘wrong hands.’ Now I happen to think that the whole issue of the ‘underground’ gun market is somewhat over-stated, but since, by definition, criminals can’t pass background checks, we have to assume that whenever a gun passes from one person to another without a background check, that such a gun could wind up in criminal hands. Hence, the possible attempt by Obama to make it at least somewhat more difficult for some folks to willy-nilly sell guns to whomever shows up at their gun show table or responds to their internet ad with cash in hand.
Malzberg’s description of the Obama Executive Order strategy has absolutely nothing to do with what Obama may or may not have in mind. Huckabee then took Malzberg’s totally incorrect statement, ran it up the flagpole, and gave a response that was both incorrect and dumb. It might not rank up there next to Rick Perry’s call for secession at a Tea Party rally in 2009, but it’s cut from the same stupid, pandering piece of cloth.
I’m beginning to think that the Republican Presidential candidates might be misjudging the gun-owning population on whom they evidently need to depend. Because no matter what Huckabee or Trump says, the average person just can’t be that dumb.