Why Trump’s Second Amendment Comments are More Dangerous than You Think
Read the original article here: http://www.progressive.org/news/2016/08/188903/why-trump%E2%80%99s-second-amendment-comments-are-more-dangerous-you-think
It makes sense to worry that Donald Trump’s most recent comments about the Second Amendment could encourage an assassination attempt against Hillary Clinton. But as a long-time follower of the gun rights movement, I think Trump’s words mean something else. Hiscontroversial statement in a speech that “Second Amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton from appointing liberal judges and cracking down on gun rights fits in with a familiar NRA message to members--that gun owners should prepare for an armed insurrection against the state. Trump is stoking the coals of an extremist movement that in the long-run may prove even more dangerous than any aspiring assassin inspired by Trump.
“He pointed out that an armed populace is a check on lawless politicians,” wrote the “FuriousYachtsman” this week about Trump’s Second Amendment remarks on the pro-gunar15.com forum, adding: “I wonder if anybody else ever thought of that? Or codified it in a document of some type?”
While Trump and his supporters like to claim he is upholding the Constitution, his latest comments are an escalation of his ongoing attack against the credibility of our constitutional democratic process. Since he started losing ground in the polls, Trump began claiming without evidence that “the system” and the elections are rigged. Now he seems to be suggesting that some kind of collective act of resistance may be necessary to stop an overreaching government should Clinton win the November election.
This is a message that resonates with the hardline base of the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association, which last month had a representative speak from the stage of a Republican National Convention for the first time. It also speaks to people like the small group of armed men who occupied of an Oregon National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year, calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom. And it’s a message that strikes a chord with white supremacists and neo-Nazis who have never felt so comfortable with a major party Presidential candidate as they do now.
Americans should not forget that Timothy McVeigh was a gun rights absolutist who was following the plot of a novel, The Turner Diaries, written by a neo-Nazi leader, when in 1995 he blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City. Nor should we forget that he did so on the second anniversary of the federal siege at Waco, Texas, which for most people was a tragic standoff between the government and the Branch Davidians, a messianic cult. For gun rights absolutists, Waco remains a galvanizing example of federal abuse of power. Most important to gun advocates, the original reason for the raid was the presence of illegal, fully-automatic weapons.
Seen in that context, Trump’s recent remarks are more potentially treasonous than encouraging Russian agents to hack into Democratic National Committee emails. They are a more serious threat than Trump’s remarks that riots might break out if he did not receive the Republican party nomination. His appeal to “Second Amendment people” is the kind of claim you might hear from a failing candidate in an underdeveloped nation prone to coups. For the first time in modern history, a major U.S. presidential candidate seems to be promoting a possible armed insurrection against the U.S. government.
Trump’s words, as usual, were sketchy and ambiguous. Clinton wants to essentially revoke the Second Amendment, Trump said, and then added:
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
A Trump spokesman claimed he meant that “Second Amendment people” would act before the election by “voting in record numbers” to defeat Clinton. A Trump spokeswoman later said he meant “Second Amendment people” would act afterward if she wins through the clout of the National Rifle Association to stop senators from approving her pick for a justice.
Neither explanation is what countless gun rights absolutists heard. For them, the Second Amendment is about their right to keep arms in order to fight an insurgent war against our own government, should one ever become necessary to keep tyranny at bay. This may sound ludicrous. But go to Twitter and search terms like #2A, #NRA and #MolonLobe, an ancient Greek term for “Come and Take Them” away. Or spend any time on websites like InfoWars.com. Or read NRA statements.
“Our Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment so Americans would never have to live in tyranny,” said NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre in 2012 before a U.N. arms control panel in New York.
“When you ignore the right of good people to own firearms to protect their freedom, you become the enablers of future tyrants whose regimes will destroy millions and millions of defenseless lives.”
This view has nothing to do with hunting or sports shooting, which is where the NRA —until hardliners took over the organization in the late 1970s— has its roots. In fact, NRA hardline advocates today deride hunters who don’t share their Second Amendment views as “Fudds,” short for the bumbling cartoon character Elmer Fudd who never managed to shoot Buggs Bunny. The late President Ronald Reagan was the NRA’s most famous Fudd for supporting gun control both during his tenure and after.
Gun rights absolutists don’t entirely trust Trump, either. “Never trust a fudd,” wrote “waltdewalt” on a gun politics page on Reddit last month, suggesting Trump is not as committed to the Second Amendment as he claims. The gun lobby will outlast Trump. But his campaign has helped bring far right gun enthusiasts and white supremacist groups into the mainstream.
“We have a wonderful OPPORTUNITY here folks, that may never come again, at the RIGHT time,” wrote Rocky Suhayda, the chairman of the American Nazi Party last fall, as was recentlyreported by Buzzfeed.
“Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have SHOWN that ‘our views’ are NOT so ‘unpopular’ as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are!”
Mainstream pundits and the Clinton campaign are right: Trump’s talk is inciting violence, and America has a tragic history of political assassinations. We have a history of homegrown terrorism, too.
Frank Smyth is a freelance journalist and gun owner who won the Society of Professional Journalists National Magazine Investigative Reporting Award for his Mother Jonesexposé,“Unmasking the NRA’s Inner Circle,” after the Sandy Hook shooting. He has also written about the gun lobby in The Village Voice and The Washington Post, and writes often about the NRA in The Progressive.
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