Before you begin reading my precious prose, go to 270towin.com and set the electoral map as a toss-up. The bottom line is that 10 states with 130 total electoral votes hold the key to who will sit in the Oval Office next year. Now there could always be a catastrophe or a calamity – Hillary could fall down a flight of stairs and bash her head in, Trump’s jet could miss the runway and everyone’s wiped out. And neither candidate is yet an actual candidate.
But this electoral map isn’t cut from whole cloth. It’s about the best guess at this point that anyone can come up with in terms of where the fight for the White House will really take place. And guess what? All of those 10 toss-up states have one thing in common, namely, these are states with lots of people who own guns.
The problem with the surveys that show only one-third of American households containing legal firearms is that a national survey understates gun ownership on a state-by-state basis because the two most populous states – California and New York – are states where guns are heavily regulated and this regulatory environment is a function of the relative lack of legally-owned guns. Taken together, these two states alone count 60 million, or 19% of the country’s population as a whole. Add four more states – Illinois, Michigan, Joisey and Massachusetts and you’re adding nearly another 40 million. In other words, 6 states count for one-third of the entire population and none of these states have a lot of residents owning a lot of guns.
Gun-rich states, on the other hand, particularly in the South and the West, have lots of guns per resident but in many cases have more cows than people, and the cows can’t vote. But when we get into those swing states, while none of them have the kind of gun numbers that you find in red states like Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas or Nebraska, they certainly have a higher percentage of gun-owning residents than states that normally vote blue.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Trump has actually thought through a single statement that he has made about anything when it comes to planning or managing a national campaign. What I am saying is that, like it or not, his pandering and lying about the 2nd Amendment may resonate very well in the toss-up states.
The problem with using the gun issue to motivate voters is that there has never been a survey which shows that the gun issue makes any real difference in terms of how people vote. At best it usually registers 1% – 2% when people are asked to list the most important issue when they go to the polls. But let’s remember that Trump ties guns to self-defense, and he ties self-defense to all that street violence being committed by “illegals,” and he ties illegals to his promise to build a wall.
And this is exactly what is so dangerous about Trump’s candidacy, because what he has done with the gun issue is use it to bolster what psychiatrists call an ‘overvalued idea,’ namely, an idea that can be channeled into anti-social, violent behavior because the means justify the ends. The Ku Klux Klan took the anger of marginal whites who felt threatened by free blacks and channeled their anger into organized acts of violence which were seen as a way to keep blacks ‘in their place.’
When Trump exhorts his followers to ‘knock the crap’ out of protestors he is taking the anger that some feel towards people of color or people who communicate in different languages, and channeling that anger into an organized effort to win a political campaign. And make no mistake: promoting and approving anger leads to violent behavior which leads to promoting and approving the use of guns. And if you think that believing in the 2nd Amendment hasn’t become a code-word for justifying anger and violence, think again.