I think the only political event in my lifetime which made a greater impression on me that the assassination of JFK was the announcement in February, 1972 that Nixon was going to China for a meeting with Mao-Tse Tung. After all, I had come of age during the Cold War, and nothing was colder than our relationship or non-relationship with the People’s Republic, a diplomatic freeze which had existed since 1949. And in the intervening 23 years, whenever any public figure even hinted that perhaps it was time for us to rethink a policy that left us unable to communicate with a government that represented one-quarter of the entire population of the globe, it was Nixon who always jumped up screaming ‘Commie, Commie,’ and the idea was quickly shelved.
Nixon’s entire political career was steeped in anti-Communism. He was elected to the House in 1946 and quickly established himself as a passionate hunter of Communists hiding under every bed in the government, culminating with his campaign against Alger Hiss. Using the Hiss case to elevate himself to national prominence, he won a Senate seat in 1950 by running a smear campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas whom he called ‘the pink lady.’ When Eisenhower decided to burnish his Presidential campaign with appeals to the anti-Communist right, Nixon was the perfect choice for the ticket in 1952.
When Nixon opened the door to China, it was his unquestioned anti-Communist credentials which allowed him to get away with a political gambit that would have ruined the career of any politician sporting even the mildest of liberal stripes. And if That Schmuck in the White House (TSWH) is actually serious about responding to Parkland with some kind of restrictions on guns, he’ll get away with it because his political base will have no choice but to agree.
Tell you the truth, I always thought that Trump’s fervent embrace of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ was really nothing more than just saying whatever he needed to say to position himself as the opposite of HRC. And I knew this not just because he had been on record as being in favor of the assault weapons ban, but more so because he’s a New York guy and New Yorkers just don’t share the alt-white’s passion for guns. Gun ‘rights’ just aren’t in the political DNA of anyone in New York, in the same way that you would have to dig pretty deep to find anyone in a gun-rich state like South Carolina who would favor any kind of ban on guns.
When the idea of a bump-stock ban was first floated around after Las Vegas, the NRA issued this statement: “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.” So, like it or not, TSWH has Gun-nut Nation in his pocket if he wants to move forward with any plan to regulate guns. And his announcement that the Justice Department will figure out a way to ban bump-stocks would reverse a 2014 ATF ruling which declared such accessory items to be legal for sale.
In order to reverse or change the ATF finding, the government would have to redefine the definition of what constitutes a legal firearm; i.e., any firearm which can be owned without going through the tiresome and costly NFA procedure now required for ownership of a full-auto gun. Such a rewrite of the definition of a legal gun would require changes to the federal gun laws passed in 1934 and 1968. But don’t forget that before Nixon met with Mao, it was illegal for American citizens to enter mainland China, a law which was then quickly changed.
From 2009 until 2016 the gun industry called Obama the best salesman they ever had. Is there any chance that the NRA’s best White House buddy could end up as the guy who rolled back gun ‘rights?’ The gun-control movement better not indulge themselves into thinking that it would never take place.