Back in 2008 Obama had his ‘guns and religion’ moment, which briefly appeared to undo his Presidential campaign, now Hillary has created her moment too with the comment about ‘deplorables.’ And while you might think that an entire national campaign never really rises or falls on a few words, just ask George Bush, the first George Bush, whether or not he’s still asking people to read his lips.
On the other hand, go back to a Reuters poll in June, and maybe the deplorability needle gauging the attitudes of Trump supporters is set just about right. Because in that poll, half the folks who described themselves as supporting Trump said that Blacks were more ‘violent’ than Whites, and also said that Blacks were more ‘criminal’ than Whites. And there is no question that Trump has been echoing and encouraging those attitudes every chance he gets, and in that respect he’s getting plenty of help from the NRA.
This whole notion of walking around with a gun in your pocket to protect yourself and others against the criminal ‘element’ has been a watchword of NRA gun propaganda since the 1980s, when the gun industry discovered that White America was no longer going out hunting but was afraid of crime. Gallup has been asking this question since 1965: ‘Is there any area near where you live – that is, within a mile – where you would be afraid to walk alone at night?’ The affirmative response hit its high-water mark in 1982 with 48% saying ‘yes.’ And it was in the 1980s that the NRA unleashed ads which, for the first time, explicitly promoted gun ownership as a response to crime, and they have been running with this notion ever since. And who exactly are all these criminals committing mayhem in the streets? If you need help figuring out the answer to that question, you need a functioning brain, never mind another gun.
There really are people out there who believe they can protect themselves and others by walking around armed even if they have little, practical training or experience in using a self-defense gun. Never mind civilians, by the way, even with some degree of training, most cops can’t protect themselves or anyone else with their gun. A study by the Police Policy Council found that when a New York City police officer encountered an armed suspect, the average ‘hit probability’ was 15 percent! A study by the RAND Corporation set the number at 18 percent. Now we’re not talking about internet scam-artists like the United States Concealed Carry Association or a former town constable named Massad Ayoob who earns a nice living going around the country as a reincarnation of Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense. We’re talking about the RAND Corporation, okay? But why trust them when you have such noted researchers as Dana Loesch and Ted Nugent telling you that you’ll always be safe as long as you carry a gun?
The Supreme Court may have gotten it right back in 2008 when it said that the 2nd Amendment gave Americans a Constitutional protection to keep a loaded handgun in their home. But that’s all the Court said. It didn’t say there was any Constitutional protection for citizen-protectors who believe it is their duty to walk around armed in their neighborhood streets. Sorry, even though George Zimmerman was found innocent of second-degree murder, he wasn’t exercising any Constitutional ‘right’ when he gunned down Trayvon Martin in 2012.
My issue is not whether guns do or don’t make you safe. And it certainly isn’t whether or not anyone should own a gun. The issue is the fact that a gun is a very lethal product in even the most capable hands, and to pretend otherwise has become a not-so-disguised way to promote and exploit racism and fear. And God only knows that we have been getting a big dose of both from a certain New York City landlord in the current Presidential campaign.