Like it or not, the race for the White House is right now in a dead heat. It’s not so much that Shlump-o is rising in the polls, but that HRC is slowly losing ground. Even my friends who run the Huffington pollster are showing that over the past five weeks she has lost more than he has gained. So just as the Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) movement needs to suggest an intelligent and reasonable (read: it could pass) gun bill based on the premise that Hillary will still win, they also need to begin thinking about developing a post-election stance and agenda in case he whose real name is unmentionable chalks up the big W on November 8th.
I know, I know, she’s still in the lead and the debate season has yet to begin. But the emails and her health issues didn’t help and all of a sudden a lead in Ohio has disappeared; what looked like a good shot in North Carolina and Florida is moving the other way. Without those three states, particularly the Buckeye State, things don’t look all that good. I’m not saying that we will be listening to an inaugural speech on January 20, 2017 that will commence with a recitation of the 2nd Amendment; I am saying right now that I wouldn’t necessarily give Mrs. Clinton the short odds.
My GVP friends need to ask themselves what they might do if the unthinkable becomes the thinkable over the next four years. Because the truth is that even if our President didn’t have enough chips to pass Manchin-Toomey, he still has been a consistent and continuous voice on the question of gun violence, and one should never underestimate the value of the ‘bully pulpit’ when it comes to shaping public opinion about guns or anything else. So GVP may have to craft new messaging about gun violence that will not have the blessing or support of the Chief Executive, and what follows are some (albeit very) preliminary suggestions for what that messaging might contain:
- Let’s stop venerating the 2nd Amendment. Enough is really enough. The 2nd Amendment does not ‘guarantee’ our liberties; it doesn’t ‘protect us’ from terrorism or other threats. It is simply a law which, according to the Supreme Court, allows Americans to keep a handgun in their homes for self-defense.
- Let’s stop pretending that there is a difference between accidental shootings and intentional use of guns in homicides, suicides or aggravated assaults. You don’t make your home ‘safer’ by locking up your guns. You make your home safe by not owning a gun.
- Let’s stop promising everyone that gun violence can be reduced by limiting handgun and assault rifle magazine capacity to 10 rounds. What makes guns lethal is how they were designed, not how many rounds can be fired before it’s time to reload.
I’ve been in the gun business one way or another for more than fifty years and I don’t believe there’s some kind of ‘middle ground’ when it comes to the issue of guns. Either you own them or you don’t; and if you do own them, at least you should have the honesty and the brains to admit that your guns represent a risk that could be completely eliminated if the guns weren’t there. And that’s what GVP may be facing next year – a President who actually believes that guns don’t represent any risk at all.
But why wait until next year to take a firm and unyielding stance on the issue of guns? Because the truth is that what is really deplorable (to quote a certain Presidential candidate) is that more than 100,000 Americans are killed or badly injured with guns every year. This extraordinary level of violence is what makes America truly exceptional, and there’s no reason to wait until the results are in on November 8th before figuring out what needs to be done.