If there’s one thing more than anything else that has pissed me off about Trump, it has been his propensity to use the most low-level, stupid and pandering statements about guns as if they are facts. He probably does this with everything, but I’m no expert on economic affairs or international politics, so when someone scores him for saying something dumb about the economy or trade deals, I often take the criticism with a grain of salt. But I know something about guns, in fact, I know a lot about guns, and if Trump really believes that walking around with a gun makes you safe, then he’s saying something that is simply dumb.
Where does he get it from? He gets it from the NRA, the NSSF and all the other organizations and individuals who produce hot air for Gun-nut Nation. Believe it or not, I don’t blame the NRA for foisting such stupids on the public; the folks in Fairfax are a marketing operation and that’s what marketing operations do – they promote their products as best they can, and as long as their lawyers tell them that something they are saying won’t wind them up in court, why not say whatever you want to say?
But this time the NRA may wind up in court not because of something they said about guns, but something they are saying about Hillary, which is just a shorthand way they are now using to talk about guns. I’m referring to the ad that the NRA is running in some ‘swing’ states which features a Benghazi veteran named Mark Geist, who was apparently at Benghazi when the ill-fated attack took place in 2012. And the ad shows him standing at a veteran’s cemetery warning the viewers that it was Hillary’s behavior that resulted in some of his comrades ending up in that hallowed ground, rather than standing alongside him.
By coincidence (yea, right,) the ad aired the same day that U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) released his long-awaited Benghazi report, which was so lacking in any new criticisms of Hillary that Rush Limbaugh’s response was to sink into a paroxysm of ‘Hillary’s a liar’ shrieks because he couldn’t find anything else to say. And Trump-o couldn’t find anything to say either beyond the usual ‘crooked Hillary’ riff or some words to that effect.
But the Veteran’s Administration did have something to say about the ad, and what they said was that it’s illegal to use a veteran’s cemetery for film purposes without express permission and they had not received any request from the NRA for this or any other purpose. The NRA of course denied it had broken the law, stating that it was filmed ‘outside’ a veteran’s cemetery, but in fact the ad includes footage of Geist actually stepping between cemetery headstones.
Incidentally, I was directed to the controversy over the NRA ad by the folks who run a website, Correct The Record, which is a research and rapid-response effort aimed at supporting the Clinton campaign. Given the shameful degree to which Trump and his narrow band of supporters have based virtually every campaign statement on whatever will appeal to his so-called ‘movement’ regardless of even the remotest connection to the truth, the folks at Correct have their work cut out for them and I wish them the best of luck.
But as I page through their website, and it’s a site everyone should bookmark and read, it occurs to me that this is exactly the kind of resource that the Gun Violence Prevention community sorely needs but doesn’t have. I wrote a column earlier today pointing out that a Youtube huckster is promoting the idea of concealed-carry without any training whatsoever and his videos get hundreds of thousands of hits! You know the old saying about appealing to hearts and minds. GVP does a great job of appealing to hearts but Correct The Record might be a model for how to appeal to the minds.