The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Choice for Gun Owners: An Unreliable Ally or a Certain Foe

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Today, Donald Trump Meets America’s Gun Owners

Greetings from Louisville, Kentucky, where this afternoon, Donald Trump will address the attendees of the NRA Annual Meeting.

I would be surprised if Trump received anything less than a cordial response from the crowd, and he could very well get an enthusiastic response. He was rather warmly received at last year’s convention in Nashville. Trump’s comments in support of gun control are apparently too far back in the past to be a political liability with these voters today:

“It’s often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries,” Trump wrote in his book, The America We Deserve. “After a tragedy like the massacre at Columbine High School, anyone could feel that it is too easy for Americans to get their hands on weapons. But nobody has a good solution.”

 “This is another issue where you see the extremes of the two existing major parties. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed,” continued Trump. “The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions. I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hoursif a potential gun owner has a record.”

There were certainly skeptics among gun owners; Bob Owens, editor of BearingArms.com, made his views explicit in February.

“Of the remaining Republican contenders, front-runner Donald Trump is clearly the least conservative candidate based upon his own well-documented history of switching to the Democrat Party when doing so might help him personally profit,” Owens wrote. “In the end, we have to agree with Senator Cruz: allowing Donald Trump to become the Republican nominee would be a disaster for the long-term future of the Second Amendment and gun ownership in the United States.”

But the NRA doesn’t generally get involved in presidential primaries, and as former NRA President David Keene suggested in an interview with theIntercept, the organization is unlikely to spurn a Republican presidential nominee who’s saying the right things now based on a sixteen-year-old book passage and off-the-cuff comments to Larry King.

“The unfortunate thing,” Keene says, “is you can’t tell how someone will act as president until they’re sworn in. Recently, this guy from Alaska called and said, ‘Trump’s gonna sell us out. We need to do something.’

“I asked, ‘What’s your evidence?’ We can’t read people’s hearts and minds.”

Trump will bash Hillary Clinton, and the crowd will applaud with good reason; she supports a wide variety of gun control proposals, including reinstating the assault-weapons ban. Never mind that gun crimes continued to decline after the ban expired. The dirty little secret that few gun-control advocates like admitting is that very few crimes are committed with so-called “assault weapons.”

A choice between an unreliable ally and a certain enemy is far from ideal, but most gun owners will see a clear distinction anyway.

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