Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is no stranger to controversy. The billionaire businessman and reality TV star has a way of stating things in a manner simultaneously ambiguous and incendiary.
Of course, he often has help from the media. The Clinton camp joins in, as do other embittered opponents. They work together as firestorm propellants through as many 24-hour news cycles as possible.
At a rally last week, Mr. Trump said, “Hillary wants to abolish the Second Amendment” and, accordingly, that a President Hillary Clinton would appoint justices to the Supreme Court committed to undermining our individual right to bear arms. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” he told the crowd, before adding, off-the-cuff, “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
The Clinton campaign and much of the media (but I repeat myself) immediately took this as a clear call to Second Amendment activists to . . . well, summarily execute Mrs. Clinton.
“This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, quickly informed the press. “A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
“It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis,” tweeted Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who is fond of attacking people for the awful crime of praying for the victims of gun violence without first agreeing with Murphy’s political agenda.
Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, used Trump’s statement as an opportunity to remind us of the police state in which we find ourselves: “Well, let me say, if someone [had] said that outside the hall he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the secret service questioning him.”
“I fear that an unbalanced person hears that in this inflamed environment and, God forbid, thinks that was a threat,” offered longtime Clinton crony Paul Begala. “I certainly take it as a threat, I really do, and Trump needs to apologize.”
Give him his due, at least Mr. Begala has enough insight and self-knowledge to admit he is “unbalanced,” as many of us have long suspected.
“Donald Trump suggested someone kill Sec. Clinton,” Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) explained. “We must take people at their word.”
A bit of a leap? As Hillary would say, “Let’s unpack this.”
First, would Mrs. Clinton curtail gun rights as Trump charges?
Earlier this year, a Clinton policy advisor issued a statement that “Clinton believes Heller was wrongly decided . . .” and “worries that Heller may open the door to overturning thoughtful, common sense safety measures in the future.”
Then, just weeks ago, in a rare interview with the media, Mrs. Clinton told Chris Wallace on his Fox News Sunday program that she would not choose justices seeking to overturn the High Court ruling in the Heller case, which interpreted the Second Amendment as guaranteeing an individual gun right.
Should we trust her? Stop laughing and read on.
Was the Donald attempting to incite violence against Hillary? No. I don’t think so. And I’m no fan of Trump.
But, of course, like so many Trump statements, there is ample room for interpretation. The question is whether there is anything that “Second Amendment people” can do — after the election. There will still be all manner of political pressure to be applied. To suggest that the only possible or the most likely implication is assassination says more about the fantasies of these gun control speakers than it does about the realities of who these pro-gun rights folk truly are.
Which brings us to a larger question: What should be the people’s response were a future president or court to declare our right to defend ourselves null and void?
Look to precedent? When musket-armed American patriots met the British redcoats at Lexington and Concord, someone fired the shot heard ’round the world. Why? Specifically to stop the Brits from rendering the colonists defenseless by confiscating their arms and ammunition.
The implication? Clear.
They could not allow themselves to be disarmed. Neither can we.
So, with a chill down the back of our necks, let’s hone and redouble our peaceful support for our most basic right: self-defense.