A Little Early But Here’s My GVP Resolutions For 2017.

 

The truth is that nothing succeeds like adversity, and if there’s one group that probably feels they’ve been hit with adversity it’s the community that really cares about gun violence prevention, a.k.a. GVP.  Because if this election was anything, it was something of a plebiscite on America’s gun culture and the American fascination with guns.  Talk about making the country exceptional – what other country has more than 300 million small arms stacked away in closets and drawers?  And you can’t argue with the fact that Hillary made new gun regs a major part of her pitch and Shlump made a point of promising to protect the 2nd Amendment at every campaign stop that he made. No, I take that back – the one place he didn’t mention gun ‘rights’ was when he tramped around Flint.

trump5             For many GVP advocates, having a virulently pro-gun President in the White House is a new state of affairs, which is why it’s understandable that the GVP community would feel somewhat vulnerable going into 2017.  Let’s face it, we all had visions of expanded background checks to secondary gun transfers under Hillary – was there a single pollster who told us it wouldn’t come true? But maybe, just maybe, the Age of Trump will prove to be a blessing in disguise for GVP because, if nothing else, his continued pandering to the lowest common denominator on the gun issue will waken people up to the fact that now’s really the time to get involved.

Which is why although I usually wait until after Christmas to publish my gun violence prevention (GVP) resolutions for the next year, I’ve decided to get started now.  And the reason I’m doing it early this time is because of some postings about how Vanity Fair’s subscriptions soared after the magazine was attacked by Trump, ditto a massive wave of new subscriptions for The New York Times after the results on November 8th.  So I think we need to get ready because sooner or later El Shlumpo will say something stupid or really stupid or really, really stupid about guns and GVP better be ready to respond.  So my New Year’s GVP resolutions are aimed at making my own response as effective as it can be.

Resolution #1. – I will never write anything that contains the slightest concern for, or support of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The second that a GVP advocate says that Americans have a ‘right’ to own a gun, the other side has won.

Resolution #2. – I have absolutely no interest in trying to figure out how to communicate a GVP message to ‘responsible’ people who own guns.  If they’re so responsible, let them figure it out.

Resolution #3. –  I am not going to bother any more with explanations about the difference between a ‘modern sporting rifle’ and an AR-15.  There is no difference except that the latter is designed to kill people and the former is an entirely made-up name.

Resolution #4. – I will not entertain any discussion about whether there should be a training standard for civilians who want to carry concealed (or open) guns.  Anyone who wants to carry a self-defense gun can join the military or, if you’re too old to enlist, you can always move to Israel because up to age 60 you can serve in the IDF reserves.

So those are my New Year’s resolutions when it comes to GVP.  And if you’ve bothered to read them you’ll notice one common thread, namely, that when it comes to reducing gun violence, the GVP community needs to take a very strong, aggressive and uncompromising stance.  The fact is that 90% of the small arms being manufactured and sold in the United States are designed to do only one thing.  And if they weren’t designed to do that one thing we wouldn’t need to be advocates for GVP.  Get it?

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An Important Survey That Sheds Some Light On How Voters Thought About Guns.

Our friends at the Center for American Progress (CAP) have just released a post-election poll which gets right down to the details about how and why folks voted the way they did.  I’m going to leave the discussion about the overall poll results to the experts in politics, but I would like to discuss the results of several poll questions which related specifically to the issue of guns.

cap-logo2           The CAP press release which accompanied the survey found that in most areas, a majority of voters for both candidates preferred a middle-of-the-road approach to legislative issues and priorities, as well as a “notable alignment between Trump and Clinton voters on progressive issue priorities such as equal pay, money in politics, gun violence, and criminal justice reform.”  But when I examined the answers to specific questions about gun violence, with all due respect, this ‘notable alignment’ does not appear to be all that notable or all that aligned.

The survey contains a reference to gun issues in three questions:  Question #65 asks participants to rate the degree to which the candidates’ stance on ‘ensuring no infringements on the 2nd Amendment’ was important in determining how they voted; question #89 asks participants to rate the importance of ‘ensuring no infringements on the 2nd Amendment’ as a priority of the next Administration and Congress; question #102 asks participants whether they would support or oppose “legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, including those sold online or at gun shows.”

And here’s how it went down.  Three-quarters of Trump’s supporters said that protecting the 2nd Amendment was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in determining their decision to vote for him; less than half the Clinton supporters used the same 2nd-Amendment criteria for supporting HRC.  In other words, Clinton’s call for more gun regulations motivated her voters considerably less than Trump supporters were motivated by his defense of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  Gun-sense Nation was rightfully exultant that we finally had a national candidate who was willing to take on the NRA, but it wasn’t a strategy that appeared to have swayed votes.

Now things get a little sticky, because the next question asked participants to indicate the degree to which they expect Trump and the Congress to act on different priorities, one of them being protecting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  And on this one, the views of Trump versus HRC supporters didn’t align at all.  Again, nearly three-quarters of the Trumpsters expect Trump to make good on his campaign claims to bolster 2nd-Amendment guarantees; again less than half of HRC’s supporters want to see the 2nd Amendment strengthened, a division of opinion that was exceeded only by views on keeping the ACA and building s Mexican wall.

Finally, and here’s the hot-button issue, namely, the question of comprehensive background checks.  Trump voters split about 70-30 on extending background checks; HRC voters, not surprisingly, came down more than 8 out of 10 in favor of comprehensive checks.  I didn’t mention a fourth gun question (#58 and #82) because asking people if they support efforts to reduce gun ‘crime’ and gun violence is really a two-edged sword.  This was the only gun question where both sides more or less agreed, but I guarantee you that had the question been broken down to its two component parts – gun violence versus gun crimes – one side would have been much more concerned with reducing gun violence, the other side much more concerned with doing something about gun ‘crimes.’  And if you need to be told which side is which on that one, you didn’t pay much attention to the HRC-Trump argument on guns during the campaign.

I’ll always stand up and applaud CAP for the really great work they do; work which is much more important right now as we look for ways to check the behavior of the lunatics who want to turn the government into their private asylum.  But in opposing the craziness, we have to understand it for what it is and not look for silver linings which may or may not exist.

 

Did The NRA Win The Election For Trump? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

The boys from Fairfax didn’t wait one second to announce that the $30 million they ponied up for Trump television ads was money well spent; Wayne-o called his members the “special forces that swung this election” and then asked for a few bucks. Chris-o got on the NRA-ILA website and intoned that the election showed that ‘gun rights are not for sale.’ But gun-nut hyperbole notwithstanding, does Trump owe his victory to the NRA?

trump5            In the four ‘firewall’ states (PA, MI, OH, FL) the GOP vote increased 9% – a not-inconsiderable jump. On the other hand, in those same four states, Clinton’s vote in those states showed a deficit of 4%.  Overall, Trump’s gain was greater than HRC’s loss, but had she improved on Obama’s 2012 performance by a measly 2%, the aggregate vote for those four, crucial states would have gone her way.

That’s all fine and well except for the fact that statewide totals varied significantly from state to state.  Trump won PA by 67,000+ votes out of almost 6 million, he grabbed MI by 11,000 out of 5 mill, the gap was wider in Florida (110,000) and in Ohio, wider still (450,000). So let’s get down to county-level votes and see whether the gun vote shows up or it don’t.

Hillary carried 7 Pennsylvania counties clustered around Philadelphia, which delivered 1,725, 927 votes, or 59% of her statewide vote.  Trump won the rural counties which is where there are lots of guns.  Except he won Pennsylvania because he also won urban Erie County, which voted nearly 60% for Obama in 2012.  In Erie he pulled 11,000 more votes in 2016 than Romney pulled in 2012, but he won by less than 3,000 votes. If Hillary had received the same number of Erie votes in 2016 that came out for Obama in 2012, she would have won the Keystone State.

In Michigan Trump won by two-tenths of one percent.  But in 2012 Barack won 20 of the state’s 83 counties, this year HRC prevailed in only 8, including the bloc around Detroit, so the Motor City vote didn’t hold.  Hillary’s vote represented a net loss of more than 75,000 votes – and that took care of that. She didn’t lose votes in Wayne because people didn’t come out; she lost votes because upwards of 60,000 people have moved out of Wayne County in just the last five years.

Michigan happens to be a big gun state, but not in places where Democrats ever go looking for votes.  Other than Marquette, the northern peninsula is politically deep red, there are more hunting rifles sitting in wall racks than people sitting underneath those racks in their La-Z-Boy chairs.  But where Hillary really took a whack was Genesee County, just northwest of Detroit, where 26,000 Democratic votes from 2012 failed to show up in 2016, even though the county still voted blue. What’s the county seat? Flint.  How could anyone take the trouble to vote in Flint?

The Ohio results were more dramatic but just the same.  Trump gained 178,205 votes, mostly in rural counties, maybe gun owners, maybe not.  But the blue team lost 380,259 statewide votes between the two elections – goodbye Buckeye, goodbye. As for the Gunshine State, here we probably do see Advantage NRA, if only because both slates increased statewide totals from 2012 to 2016, but for every new vote that went for HRC, two new votes showed up for Trump.  But if Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania had gone blue, she would have been over the top without the Florida vote.

What made at least three of these four states swing from blue to red was not the power or the voice of the NRA; it was the failure of the Democratic Party to address issues like loss of jobs and economic status in those and other states. The NRA didn’t lead the Trump campaign; it latched onto a campaign that had its own dynamic, its own message and its own success.

Did The Gun Vote Swing This Election? I Don’t Think So.

As an unrepentant, yellow-dog Democrat, I wasn’t enamored of the election results from last night.  But the first thing that caught my eyes as the returns started to roll in was the drop-off in vote totals from four years’ before.  Trump is going to end up with about the same number of votes as Romney got in 2012; Hillary’s total will probably be somewhere around 3.5 million less than what Barack pulled that same year. Trump will end up getting something less than 59 million votes this year; he won because lots of Democratic voters didn’t show up, not because he was so strong at the polls.

trump4The decline in both red and blue vote totals at the statewide levels was also evident in the two really surprise states, namely, Wisconsin and Michigan which, had they gone for Hillary, she still would not have awakened this morning with a larger Secret Service detail guarding her house, but the results in those two states probably would have been reflected in the count from Pennsylvania and other states as well.  Trump’s totals from Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania will end up somewhere south of 7 million; Hillary won’t be far behind. Trump will end up pulling about 300,000 more in PA than came out and voted red in 2012, but in Michigan and Wisconsin the 2012-2016 totals will be the same.

Where I am going with these numbers is to try and judge the impact of the ‘gun vote’ on the outcome as a whole.  Because from the very beginning of this campaign, gun and gun violence played a central role in how these two candidates presented themselves both to those who ended up voting as well as to the substantial numbers who didn’t bother to vote. Hillary kick started her primary battle against Bernie in a take-no-prisoners statement after the shooting at Umpqua CC.  And Trump never stopped reminding his audiences that he was the NRA’s official candidate almost before his campaign began.

Now the fact that the NRA ran television spots in gun-rich states like Georgia, Texas and Tennessee probably didn’t affect the results in those states at all.  A majority of residents in these states, wishful thinking to the contrary, will always vote for the GOP, and they don’t need the NRA to remind them that no matter who sits atop the national Democratic ticket, that individual represents a ‘threat’ to their guns.

But it’s in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania where the value of the gun issue needs to be understood.  Because all three states have large, urban populations who are generally resistant to any appeal about guns, but they also have many rural residents, almost all of whom are gun owners and, in theory, might come out in force to protect their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

The NRA is already taking credit for getting their man into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but the overall and most statewide numbers belie their claim. What cooked the Clinton goose was not the turnout for Trump; it was the fact that she was unable to retain the voting strength that the Bomber demonstrated in 2008 and 2012.

Which brings me, of course, to the obvious question: given the fact that all three branches of the federal government are now or will shortly be red, what will be the future for GVP?  First of all, three states passed significant ballot initiatives: banning hi-cap mags in California, extending background checks to private sales in Nevada and temporarily blocking hi-risk individuals from access to firearms in Washington State.

There are now 19 states that require background checks beyond the initial point of sale.  There were six states that granted unrestricted concealed-carry licenses in the mid-80s; it took the NRA twenty-five years to extend shall-issue to just about all 50 states. So the issue is not where GVP stands today; it’s where it was ten years ago and where it will be ten years from now.  Remember – if reducing gun violence was so easy, there wouldn’t have been anything that needed to be reduced.

Will Gun Owners Start A Rebellion To Defend Their 2nd-Amendment Rights? Don’t Hold Your Breath.

Notwithstanding  Donald Trump’s jeremiad against the ‘corrupt media,’ I still believe The New York Times adheres to its masthead slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” But perhaps the paper slipped in a story last week about Trump supporters calling for a revolution if Hillary wins. The most aggressive statements about a looming Trumpian apocalypse came from several people who identified themselves as gun owners and predicted armed insurrection if Hillary won the election and then attempted to take away their guns.

times-logo           You would think that two experienced reporters, when confronted with serious threats of armed revolt, (which happens to be a Federal felony) would at least attempt to figure out whether there was even remotely connected to reality before telling their readers that such views represented a ‘dark fear’ about the country heading for a violent political end. But these predictions about armed rebellion were presented without even the slightest effort to determine whether there was anything lurking behind such comments that could possibly translate into an insurrectionary event.

I have sold guns to more than 9,000 gun owners and can count on the fingers of one hand the few who will pull a Clinton-Kaine lever on November 8th.  Know why gun owners are going to vote for Trump?  Not because he’s telling them to ‘take care of Hillary’ if she messes with their 2nd-Amendment rights, not because their guns will protect them from the corruption of the elite, and certainly not because he says we will be a safer country if everyone walks around with a gun. Gun owners are going to vote for Trump for one simple reason: they have always voted for the Republican candidate, no matter what he says. And if they are then asked why they are voting for that candidate, they’ll repeat whatever the candidate said about why they should vote for him.

Want to take a guess as to how many gun owners came into my gun shop during the 2012 election and told me they were voting for Romney because he was on the side of the ‘givers’ and Obama was on the side of the ‘takers?’  Just about every single one.  And the few who didn’t tell me that the country had too many ‘takers’ didn’t say they wanted to make America ‘great’ again, they said they ‘believed’ in America, which just happened to be the Romney campaign slogan since everyone knew that someone born in Kenya couldn’t possibly believe in the U.S.A.

Last week Wayne-o sent an ‘urgent message’ to the NRA membership, warning them of Hillary’s plan to ‘forcibly’ take away their guns which could only be prevented if everyone joined with him, ‘arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder,’ to fight and ‘make America great again.’

Wayne’s exhortation to man the barricades was immediately dismissed by mainstream journalists as an example of an ‘alternate universe,’ but what gun owners hear and then repeat to inquiring reporters is one thing; whether they are willing to put up anything beyond their mouths is something else again. In 2013 a radio shock-jock radio named Adam Kokesh announced that he and a hardy band of supporters were determined to march from Virginia into Washington, D.C. They would carry loaded guns into the Nation’s Capital to initiate what he called the ‘Final American Revolution’ that would dissolve the Federal government and, I guess, install him as King. The revolution, of course, was cancelled when Kokesh realized that all he’d get for his trouble was a quick trip from the bridge in Virginia to a jail in D.C.

Being a law-abiding citizen happens to be a requirement for the legal ownership of a gun.  And NRA members and gun owners in general tend to be a very law-abiding bunch. The good news is that predicting that someone else will engage in armed rebellion happens to be protected by the same Bill of Rights which protects their ownership of guns.  And they’re not about to do anything that might really cause them to lose those guns.

 

You Might Think The NRA Supports Trump, But They Really Support The NRA.

I’m going to way out on a limb and before I saw myself off, assume that HRC is going to win. I know, I know, the old evil eye.  But if every poll except that crazy LA Times tracking poll is somehow correct, then it looks like this one can be put to bed. Which brings me to ask myself (and all of you) the following question: If Trump-o really gets stomped, what does this result portend for the future of the NRA?

trump4           Because the NRA has done several unprecedented things in this election cycle which deserve to be better understood.  To begin, the organization endorsed Trump at their annual meeting in April, and turned what is usually a stop-off for all the national Republican candidates into a showcase for just one.  Then they followed this unprecedented move by ponying up more than $21 million for television ads which, according to our buddy Tim Johnson, is almost twice as much as they have ever spent on any previous Presidential campaign.

For me, the most inexplicable thing about all this spending is that it’s not as if the NRA’s membership needs to be convinced to vote for Trump.  Talk about preaching to the converted, isn’t Gun-nut Nation and Make America Great Again basically one and the same? And while states like Florida and North Carolina are important swing states where lots of people own guns, what makes them swing states is the potential voter turnout by demographics that don’t own guns.

Given the degree to which Hillary has been the NRA’s favorite punching-bag for longer than I can recall, and given the fact that the average NRA member can be counted on to vote for the Red Team no matter who is quarterbacking the squad, why did the NRA go so far out on a limb for Trump? Or to put it another way, what did they hope to achieve? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that, if nothing else, Clinton really represents a threat to Gun-nut Nation far beyond what has previously been faced. She is the first blue national candidate to make gun control a central plank of her campaign; and she didn’t do this just to outflank Bernie, she did it because she knows that in a national campaign against someone like Trump, trying to present herself as a ‘defender’ of the 2nd Amendment is a waste of time.

But I also have to assume that at some point Trump made it clear to the NRA leadership that, if elected, he would consider himself to be their President in terms of advancing and supporting a political agenda that meets NRA’s needs.  And this agenda would primarily consist of a national concealed-carry permit valid in all 50 states, as well as using the 2nd Amendment as a litmus-test for nominations to the nation’s highest court.

The only problem in this little NRA-Trump love fest, of course, is that even back in April, the polls showed that Trump’s chances of actually succeeding Obama were slim to none.  So why does the NRA continue to dump money into his campaign when the campaign has become nothing more than the candidate claiming that he didn’t say and do what we all know he said and did?

Because what the NRA hopes will come out of this campaign is a feeling on the part of Gun-nut Nation that America’s oldest civil rights organization is really fighting for them. In 2013 the revenue from membership dues was $175 million, in 2014 it dropped to $128 mill.  So in 2013 they ended up more than $50 million in the black, in 2014 they lost $35 million bucks.

And the greater the victory margin (we hope) for Hillary, the more the NRA can say that when it comes to protecting the 2nd Amendment, they’re the only game in town. In fact, their advertising campaign isn’t about Donald Trump; it’s about the NRA.

If Hillary Wins Big, Will There Be A New Gun Bill? I’m Not So Sure.

Lets’ say for the sake of argument that HRC kicks his ass on November 8th.  And she does such a good job of ass-kicking that the Senate turns blue.  And the ass-kicking is so remarkably well done that the House comes within three or four seats of also no longer being red. Now you probably couldn’t have imagined such a scenario just a few short weeks ago, but Trump just keeps saying what he shouldn’t say to the point that the unthinkable is no longer shorthand for a Trump victory next month, but is what some of us are beginning to whisper as regards a blowout victory for HRC.

hillary3           And if this does happen, you can bet that one of the first orders of business will be sending a gun bill up to the Hill that has a fairly good chance of getting passed.  And you can further bet that if there is such a bill, that its core provision will be revival of the extension of background checks to downstream transfers and sales, not only because this was the core of the post-Sandy Hook bill which almost made it through the Senate, but it’s an idea which even Gun-nut Nation, or at least some part of the Nation, appears to support.

Last year a CBS/New York Times poll asked the following question: “Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?” A whopping 92% said ‘yes.’  And a positive response to this question was even registered by 87% of the poll respondents who identified themselves as Republicans, which for an issue as divisive as gun control, that’s about as near to absolute unanimity as you’re going to get.

Since there’s nothing like voting for a bill which appears to have near-universal support, you might think that after more than twenty years of wrangling over the extent to which gun regulations can be implemented that will keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands,’ that finally some common sense will prevail, the NRA will make an attempt but not too much of an attempt to keep expanded background checks from becoming law of the land and – glory hallelujah – thy will be done. Duh, not so fast.  If you think for one minute that Gun-nut Nation will roll over and play dead, even if a lot of gun nuts are telling pollsters that on the issue of background checks they really don’t care, then you don’t really understand how gun owners think about guns or why the NRA can continue to defeat legislation that even many of its members are willing to let fly.

In 2012 (Sandy Hook happened in December) the NRA collected $107 million in dues.  In 2013, while Washington argued back and forth over extending background checks, revenue from dues shot up to $175 million bucks. The following year when the heat was off, revenue from dues drifted back down to $128 million. So how do you explain the fact that the NRA fought an unyielding battle against extending background checks, virtually all Americans agreed that it was a good idea, and yet dues collected by the NRA went up by a staggering 60%?

I’ll tell you how to explain it.  There is simply a complete disconnect in the brains of gun owners between their ownership of guns and the 115,000+ deaths and injuries which occur each year because of guns.  After all, you can’t buy a gun legally unless you pass a background check, so by definition, with the exception of suicides, law-abiding gun owners rarely shoot themselves or others with their guns. And even though it’s not true, most people believe that if someone wants to commit suicide it will happen, access to a gun or not.

So if the NRA wants to wage an all-out effort to defeat a new gun bill next year, they’ll get the same support from their members that they always get, and that will be the most active support.  Will they also be passively supported by the millions of gun owners who aren’t dues-paying members?  I’ll take the short odds on that one, too.

Of Course Hillary Wants To Make All Women Defenseless. That’s What happens When You Take Away The Guns.

Our good friend Tim Johnson, from Media Matters, has just released a story about the latest NRA advertising blitz which is a what-else-is-new argument about how HRC is going to take away all the guns. In this case the ad is specifically directed at women and starts off with a little spiel from a woman in Indianapolis who shot some guy after he attacked her with a knife. Now she’s a poster-person for Gun-nut Nation because, as she says, women have the ‘right’ to defend themselves with a gun.

hillary3            That’s right Kristi (she’s the lady in the ad) you certainly do have the ‘right’ to defend yourself with a gun.  You also have the right to defend yourself by calling 911, running away from the scene, using your fists or just using your mouth.  And while Gun-nut Nation wants you to believe that guns are a much more effective, in fact the only effective way to protect yourself from crime, the truth is that guns don’t, in fact, provide an extra measure of safety against crime.

Now of course Gun-nut Nation members who are reading this column will immediately jump up and say that any such study was no doubt put together by some gun-grabbing group, so it shouldn’t be taken as meaning anything at all.  But in fact, the study which shows that guns don’t provide an extra measure of protection is doesn’t come from the gun-grabbing cabal, it was conducted and published, in fact, by none other than Gary Kleck, whose 1995 study which estimated that gun-carrying civilians prevented 2 ½ million crimes from being committed every year. And this estimate, which has been debunked by just about every serious scholar who has ever bothered to review Kleck’s work, remains the non plus ultra argument within Gun-nut Nation for concealed-carry up to the present day.

Kleck’s study on how victims resist crime compared various self-protection (SP) strategies, including using guns or other weapons, running away, yelling or calling attention to the problem, calling the police or hiding away.  And with many caveats about the difficulty of analyzing this kind of data, Kleck’s conclusion is this: Using a gun to defend against a violent crime appears to be somewhat more useful in preventing injury, but the difference wasn’t “statistically significant.” And complicating the analysis even further was the fact, according to Kleck, that the very limited number of defensive gun uses made it difficult to determine the value of using a gun as a protective strategy at all.

Hey – wait a minute.  I thought that Kleck said there were millions of defensive gun uses every year. And didn’t Mr. Trump say that if someone had brought a gun into the Pulse that the horrible shooting in Orlando wouldn’t have taken place?  Now you would think that when the Grand Master of all defensive gun uses says that he really can’t prove that guns make any real difference in providing protection from crime that maybe, just maybe, Gun-nut Nation would pull back a bit, reconsider one of its most cherished ideas and perhaps, God forbid, admit that their attempt to get everyone to go out and buy a gun is based on nothing other than what they want rather than what really is.

But let’s go back to the issue that provoked this column, namely, Tim Johnson’s report on the new HRC attack ad being mounted by the NRA.  Their main man, Donald Shlump-o, is beginning to fall behind in PA.  All of sudden the great surge in Ohio appears to have come to an end.  The Florida polls don’t look all that great.  These are three big gun states and these are states which if they don’t go red, the main actor in the Fox News reality show known as the Republican Presidential campaign is toast.  So why not push an argument about defensive gun use that has no basis in truth?  Hasn’t this been the Trump-o strategy from Day One?

 

Donald Trump May Say He Will ‘Weaken’ Gun Laws, But He Says Lots Of Things That Aren’t True.

The good news is that she didn’t cough during the debate – not once.  The better news is that he behaved like an asshole – so what else is new?  But I keep thinking that the reason the polls have narrowed is because voters who want to exercise what David Sedaris calls the ‘shit with glass bits’ option don’t really care how he behaves.  Trump’s supporters are much more forgiving of their candidate’s sins and omissions than HRC’s supporters are forgiving of hers.  And the media have followed suit.

nics           Yesterday Evan Osnos published a piece on Trump’s first 100 days, in which he imagined what Trump would do based on what he has said he would do during the campaign.  And what appears to be taking shape is the issuance of a pile of Executive Orders that would effectively erase Obama’s legacy, in particular orders to cancel Obama-care, renounce the greenhouse emissions agreement, block the arrival of more Syrian refugees, re-start the Keystone pipeline and loosen gun regulations by relaxing background checks.

I just took a look at Trump’s website and while it contains the usual nonsense about defending 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ the only mention of the NICS background-check system is that all relevant mental health and criminal records are loaded into the system and used to disqualify certain groups of people who shouldn’t be able to own guns.  But Evan Osnos wouldn’t have mentioned the possibility of ‘relaxing’ background checks if he hadn’t heard it from someone on the Trump team.  And the NRA hasn’t ponied up millions of dollars to run Trump ads if they didn’t expect to get something in return. So what might be the net effect on the background-check system if, God forbid, the shit with glass bits option is chosen by 50% plus 1 voter who cast Presidential ballots on November 8th?

In fact, where the whole issue of gun regulations – pro and con – will probably be met is in the identity of the person who would be nominated by Trump to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court.  And Trump has promised to appoint someone who will be a strong supporter of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But while the Court with a 5-4 majority opinion written by Scalia pronounced gun ownership to be a Constitutional ‘right’ in 2008, this same Court with Scalia sitting on the bench has been unwilling to weaken long-endowed gun regulations, in particular the FBI-NICS system of background checks.

In 2009 an ex-cop in Virginia named Bruce Abramski walked into a local gun shop and bought a Glock.  He claimed he was buying the gun for himself but in fact he was buying the gun for his uncle whom he then met at a Pennsylvania gun shop so that his uncle could take possession of the gun after going through a NICS-background check. Even though Abramski’s uncle passed the NICS check, Abramski lied when he bought the gun in Virginia claiming that he was buying it for himself.  Five years later after various appeals, Abramski’s conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court.

There are other challenges to current gun regulations floating around federal courts, in particular a decision that came out of Texas (Mance v. Lynch) and would, if upheld, allow dealers in one state to sell guns to residents of other states.  But while such a legal revision would make it easier for gun nuts like me to buy guns here, there and everywhere, I would still have to pass the FBI-NICS background check in order to get my hands on the gun.

Trump’s penchant for saying whatever pops into his head without regard for the slightest concern about the truth is not only a staple of the stump speech he delivers at his Klan rallies, but is also what his campaign will feed to anyone and everyone who might represent a potential vote.  Gun-sense Nation may be frustrated in their efforts to expand NICS checks to secondary sales, but the NICS as it currently operates isn’t going away.

 

If Trump Thinks He Can Get Elected With The Hunting Vote, He Better Think Again.

Donald Trump is out with a new ad which features the Great White Hunter Ted Nugent and a bunch of other right-wing television personalities posing in front of various camera-ready montages of wilderness and other natural spaces, the whole point of the ad promoting hunting as one of America’s true values which the Shlump will defend and protect from the villainous Hillary gang.

trump2The video is narrated by the NRA’s favorite Hillary attack-dog, an ex-Navy Seal named Mark Geist whose version of who was at fault for the Benghazi mess-up has changed as many times as the veritable cat has lives. In this video he begins by intoning what has become the standard anti-Hillary mantra, i.e., she’s against everything we hold dear, and what Geist and the other performers claim to cherish above all is their right to hunt.

You may recall that during the 2008 election Obama appeared to have met his Waterloo when he talked about how all those dispossessed workers in the backwoods of Pennsylvania clung “to their religion and their guns.”  Actually, he made the comment during the primary season, and it didn’t hurt him at all against Hillary, nor did it hurt him against McCain.  In fact, he beat McCain by nearly 600,000 votes out of less than 6 million votes cast in Pennsylvania, a margin that was close to ten overall points.

Going into the last seven weeks of this campaign, the Shlumper gang appears to believe that the hunting vote could make a difference in key swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and the Gunshine State.  And there’s no question that the gap has narrowed in all four states to the point that if Shlump-o were to win three of those states, he might actually be able to move from his new hotel in the Old Post Office Building to an older address right down the block.

I have always wondered about the actual voting strength of the gun-owning population and, in this case, those gun owners who like to hunt.  So I took a look at the number of hunting licenses that were purchased in 2014 by the residents of those four swing states and the numbers look like this:  PA – 900,000; OH – 400,000; NC – 500,000; FL – 175,000.  I’m rounding off a bit but the bottom line is that roughly 2 million people bought hunting licenses in those four states.  Now this happens to work out to roughly 3.5% of the total population of those four states. That’s not fifteen percent, that’s not ten percent, that’s not even five percent.  That’s three percent.

In 2012 the Bomber racked up 12.2 million votes and won three out of those four states.  Romney polled 11.7 million and managed to win North Carolina, but the overall difference between blue and red in those battleground states was roughly half a million votes. Hey – wait a minute!  I just said that 2 million residents of those states bought hunting licenses in 2014.  So add 2 million to the votes that Romney received in those states and the Shlump-o is on his way to ga-ga land, right?

Duhhh, there’s only one little problem.  Romney got most of those hunting votes in 2012.  And McCain got most of them four years before.  And Bush got them in 2004, and on and on and on.   This totally contrived video ad may appear to be scouring the landscape for new votes but the fact is that, generally speaking, the hunting vote has already been counted by both sides.  Which is why Obama’s ‘clinging’ comment didn’t hurt him in 2008, and which is why this ad won’t make a dime’s worth of difference this time around.

Know how many hunting licenses were sold in 2014?  Fourteen million.  Know how many hunting licenses were sold in 1959?  Fourteen million.  Know what happened to the U.S. population between 1959 and 2014?  It just about doubled.  Shlump can portray himself from here to tomorrow as America’s defender of traditional ‘values,’ but one of those so-called values known as hunting is slowly but surely withering away.