A Brief Response To Josh Horwitz Whose Op-Ed Is A ‘Must Read.’

I earlier posted a thoughtful and sober editorial by Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, about what he considers Street Thug Trump’s embrace of ‘insurrectionist rhetoric’ which, according to Josh, has been promoted by the NRA for years.  I watched Trump’s North Carolina speech several times and I wasn’t sure that he was so much consciously pushing a violent threat as he was just doing what he seems to always do, namely, say something really nasty, hateful and angry but in a snarky and mealy-mouthed kind of way. But my opinion is neither here nor there, the bottom line is that the prevailing narrative has Thug exhorting gun owners to get what they want politically through force of arms. Which is fine as far as I’m concerned, because anything that causes Street Thug to lose even more credibility than what he has already lost is a good thing for me.

columbine            I have to say that I’m not terribly impressed by the fact that Media Matters has reported Street Thug’s embrace of ‘on the verge of Armageddon’ statements from the usual crew at Fox News. Fox is also the venue which carries endless advertisements for freeze-dried food that can be stored in your underground bunker for twenty-five years; investments in gold and silver because currency is going to disappear; maybe the next thing they’ll push are luxury condos across the highway from Area 51.

This whole insurrectionist thing is an offshoot of the so-called militia movement which gained notoriety after it was revealed that Timmy McVeigh and Terry Nichols attended several meetings of the Michigan Militia before they blew up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995.  Actually, what made the Michigan group famous was when they were later featured in Michael Moore’s documentary, Bowling for Columbine which, like all Michael’s films, consists of artfully-edited interviews with every loony, wacko and freak he can find.

In fact, the Michigan bunch aren’t loonies or wackos at all.  They are basically a bunch of guys who like to get together, blast away with their AR rifles to their heart’s content, then sit down and eat a lot of food, particularly the food.  I wrote a column about them back in 2014 and pointed out that there is about as much chance that this hardy band could lead an insurrection against the government as they could get through a weekend shoot without a good supply of doughnuts from the local Dunk.

Come to think about it, the food issue never seems to be far away from whatever these militias groups try to do.  Remember when back in 2016 there was a brief takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon that was led by Cliven Bundy’s sons? I know about all those militia guys who showed up and vowed to protect the Bundy idiots with their lives, and in fact one person did get shot because his car was stopped by law enforcement and then he pulled out a gun.  But the last guy to abandon the siege, forty days after it began, surrendered in return for a free exit and the delivery of a pizza which he promptly consumed.

Look, I have been saying again and again that Street Thug Trump is a danger and a threat because he appeals to fear, openly advocates violence, and the most damaging personal violence is violence caused by using a gun.  But to my mind what was concerning about the Thug’s 2nd Amendment remark in North Carolina was the fact that if he were actually to become President, he would owe the 2nd-Amendment gang big-time.  Know why he blurted out that comment about the 2nd Amendment?  Because both he and the audience were beginning to fall asleep.  But he can always get a rise out of the Gun-nut Nation contingent if he yanks their chains which gets him back on track.

The problem isn’t the insurrection rhetoric, the problem isn’t the militia members with their hots dogs and beer.  The problem is one thing and one thing only – getting every last person to the polls on November 8.  Let’s not forget that.



Michael Moore Thinks He Knows About Guns & Trump. He Needs To Think Again.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t write a response to something Michael Moore wrote except that his movie Bowling for Columbine, makes him something of a gun guy, or at least a self-professed observer of Gun-mob Nation, so I’m going to respond to the prediction he has just made that Trump will be elected President come November 8th. And the reason I am going to respond is that much of what he claims to be the harbingers of a Trump victory are based on what he believes are Trump’s appeal to the classic, gun-guy electorate, namely, the pissed-off older White men who think that it’s time to ‘shake things up.’

mooreI probably talk to a lot more guys who are going to vote for Trump than Moore has ever talked to, because I know a lot more guys who own guns. But you know what’s funny about all those older, pissed-off, gun-loving White guys who are going to vote for Trump? None of them ever voted for a Democrat no matter what.  They’ve always voted Republican and they always will.  And the fact that this year’s Republican nominee comes out and says in public what many older, pissed-off White men have been forced, until now, to say in private, doesn’t change the dynamic of this election one bit.

I love how Moore believes that ‘facts and logic’ won’t stop Trump because 16 Republican candidates tried the same thing during the primaries and they all lost.  Tried the same thing?  Rubio and Cruz ran campaigns based on facts and logic?  Was Michael Moore listening to the same speeches that I heard?  Come on, give me a break.

Michael’s absolutely correct when he says that Trump’s advantage lies in the fact that his supporters don’t need to be coaxed or pushed or even reminded to show up on November 8th.  But if he believes that Obama beat Romney in swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio just because minority voters figured out how to get themselves to the polls, then he doesn’t know anything about how a national election campaign organization really works. And if Hillary doesn’t put together a ground game (and God knows she has the money to do it) that will get her voters into the booth, then she doesn’t deserve to win.

Last year a sociologist at the University of Toronto, Jennifer Carlson, discovered a new gun ‘culture’ in the Rust Belt; in fact, she did her fieldwork in Michael Moore’s most favorite city, a.k.a., Flint.  And what she found in Flint by going to a shooting range were some guys who were dispossessed factory workers, rust-belt victims of the post-Industrial, Information Age, who were all into guns.  And the reason they all carried guns was because they didn’t trust the government to protect them, to keep them secure, to do anything for them at all.

Michael Moore made his bones in the movie business by romanticizing and, at the same time, deftly denigrating these dispossessed people in Rodger and Me, which was a movie about the collapse of Flint. So when he talks about the ‘carcass’ of the Middle Class in the Rust Belt coming out to vote for Mister Trump, he’s spent some time editing film that made his movies clever and appealing, regardless of whether they had anything to do with reality or not.

So here’s reality Michael.  With all due respect to the newly-emerging gun culture in the upper Midwest, most of the 100 million new guns that were added to the civilian arsenal during the administration of Barack Obama went to people who live in the Sunbelt. And to the extent that guns go to residents of states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, most of them go to the same smaller towns and rural communities where they always have gone.

I’m not saying that Trump can’t win on November 8th.  I’m saying that he won’t win if he’s hoping a majority of voters are as pissed off as those gun guys up in Flint.

Here’s A New Approach To Gun Violence: Get Rid Of The Second Amendment.

If you want to prove you’re a real gun nut, the way to do it is to refer to yourself as a “Second Amendment absolutist.”  Now in fact that phrase has no real meaning at all, at least not in any legal sense, but it’s a way of identifying with the group that went nuts at the 2000 NRA meeting when the words ‘not from my cold, dead hands’ were intoned by then-NRA President Charlton Heston, whose movie career was just about over except for a bit part in Bowling for Columbine where Michael Moore tried, unsuccessfully, to pester him to death.

As far as I can figure out, to be a Second Amendment absolutist means that government cannot pass any law that would keep American citizens from getting their hands on guns.  Which means bye-bye background checks, bye-bye permit-to-purchase requirements, bye-bye waiting periods and, most of all, bye-bye to any restrictions on walking around with a gun.  It also goes without saying that there wouldn’t be any attempts to restrict the types of guns.  Well, maybe we’d let the government continue to regulate full-auto guns, if only because these items fall into the category of military, rather than civilian small arms. Otherwise, if you can pull the trigger and the gun goes bang only once, you can own and carry anything that you want.

heston               What the gun nuts really want is a legal system which, when it comes to small arms, really doesn’t operate at all.  Which is why I find a new effort to abolish the 2nd Amendment a very interesting response to the absolutist point of view. Because while the absolutists want the amendment ignored, the abolitionists want it to disappear which, to all intents and purposes, amounts to the same thing.  The difference, of course, and the difference is crucial, is that the absolutists want limitless Constitutional protection for their gun-nuttery; the abolitionists know that getting rid of the 2nd Amendment will go a long way towards getting rid of the guns.

Ironically, this was somewhat the state of affairs after the SCOTUS handed down its previous 2nd Amendment decision known as United States vs. Miller in 1939.  In this case, which involved transporting a sawed-off shotgun across state lines, the Court held exactly the opposite from the way it ruled in 2008, namely, that the Constitution did not protect the private ownership of guns. But interestingly, for at least fifty years following Miller, there was little, if any legislative activity involving gun ownership, and even the landmark GCA68 law which got the Feds into gun regulation big-time, didn’t really touch on Constitutional issues at all.  It wasn’t until the Clinton Administration passed two gun laws (Brady and Assault Weapons) in 1994 that arguments over the 2nd Amendment began to heat up, leading eventually to the 2008 decision – a history that is covered thoroughly by Adam Winkler in his well-written book.

The reason I am so taken with this new effort to abolish the 2nd Amendment is that the gun-control community has always been somewhat ambivalent about the statute and, if anything, has found it necessary to defend the amendment from a liberal point of view.  In fact, the debate that led up to the 2008 decision was inaugurated by a pro-2nd Amendment article written by a liberal legal scholar, Sandy Levinson. His 1989 article, “The Embarrassing Second Amendment,” called upon liberal legal circles to support the amendment because, like free speech supporters who argued in favor of the Klan, the Constitution protected the bad along with the good.

Ever since Levinson, liberals have fallen over themselves to proclaim their devotion to the 2nd Amendment while, at the same time, invariably calling for more regulation of guns.  But I don’t see how the constitutionality of gun ownership has anything to do with the 100,000 people injured and killed each year with guns.  Sorry, but the kids and teachers in Sandy Hook would be alive today if Adam Lanza had to leave his gun ‘rights’ at the front door.