It now appears that November 8th will not only be a test of the country’s collective IQ and sanity, but will also be a national plebiscite on guns. We know where Street Thug stands on this issue because he has made it abundantly clear that a gun in the hip or in the pocketbook is where a gun should always be. As for the Democrats, the differences that cropped up between Hillary and Bernie over gun issues during the primary campaign, it now appears that the platform that will be presented at the Philly brouhaha will contain some gun proposals quite unlike anything that has ever been previously seen.
A draft of the platform has been out there for about a week, and it contains the following plank on guns: “We will expand background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws, hold irresponsible dealers and manufacturers accountable, keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons—off our streets, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues.” Programmatically, what this means is expanding NICS to cover private transactions and sales, getting rid of manufacturer’s immunity by repealing PLCAA, banning assault rifles; in other words, when it comes to guns, what Hillary wants is what Hillary’s going to get.
Of course wouldn’t you know it, but the only ripple that this gun plank has caused has been from media outlets that are pro-gun. The NRA hasn’t yet formally responded to this document, but it’s like we don’t know what they’ll say. After all, they have been on Hillary’s case since her husband pushed through Brady and the assault weapons ban in 1994, and they have already ponied up a couple of million bucks to run a totally-contrived attack ad against Hills that was probably illegally filmed in Arlington National Cemetery in the section that holds Civil War graves. I love how the narrator walks among those tombstones and says he can’t vote for Hillary Clinton because he doesn’t want any more of his buddies to wind up in these graves. Somebone might have told that schmuck that those particular graves happen to be one hundred and fifty years old.
Our good friend Ken Toltz recently posted a Huffington blog in which he quoted the guru of all political gurus, David Axelrod, tweeting that Hillary’s embrace of gun control was a ‘winning’ politician strategy. But Axelrod was referring to the primary campaign and not the general election where Hillary faces an opponent who has fashioned an entire strategy and message by appealing to what the British used to call, ‘the mob.’ And that term is defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as “a large group of people gathered together who are often uncontrollable or violent.” And if that isn’t Street Thug’s rallies, I don’t know what is.
But if the Gun Violence Prevention community is going to make an effective effort to help the red team pull off a November win, I think we have to look beyond the attention-grabbing behavior of Street Thug’s most virulent fans and fashion a realistic approach to try and win the hearts and minds of people who may not like Trump’s message or antics but will vote for him anyway because they believe he will protect their guns. And not only will Street Thug protect their gun ‘rights,’ but they believe he is more or less in tune with how they feel about other social issues as well.
This was stated very clearly in a Vanity Fair interview with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) who has emerged as the strongest Senate voice in the ongoing debate about guns. “I think the N.R.A. stamp of approval has become a proxy for a certain set of conservative values broader than your position on guns.” So the challenge for the red team is to try and engage gun-owners in a discussion that goes beyond guns. Who knows what commonalities might emerge?