Monday, August 15, 2016

Trump enlists the trigger-finger fringe

        "I got some bad ideas in my head."

So acknowledged Travis Bickle, the sad loner-turned-mad gunman in "Taxi Driver."

         We know Travis Bickle had issues. What's happening in Donald Trump's top floor? The Secret Service, for one, wants to know.

        A study in poli sci psychosis -- that's what the man has become.

We knew Trump was an odd bolt. However, recent statements make us think that rather than auditioning for president, he's gunning for Charles Bronson's role in a "Death Wish" remake.

Take Trump's line about how "Second Amendment people" might take out President Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks that was about people's being good citizens, as Trump claimed, just flunked a police lineup.

Such words are not a call to citizenship, and they're not "just a bad joke," in Paul Ryan's phrasing.

We know it's no joke, not just because of the applause it engendered but because the action to which it referred is the essence of the gun lobby's claim to legitimacy.

Listen to gun-rights groups and know the inference in Trump's statement is venerated by many.

Trump need not run from his words, writes Slate legal analyst Mark Joseph Stern. In fact, the "insurrectionist" theory of the Second Amendment has become mainstream among gun-rights groups and, by extension, today's Republican Party.

Votes? We don't need no stinkin' votes. We got guns.

        Those who espouse the notion that gun rights empower the people to take down their government quote Thomas Jefferson as saying, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against government."

Strong statement. Problem is, it is not found among Jefferson's writings or speeches. It is an oft-repeated fabrication, fit for Joseph Goebbels' "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

Stern asserts that no true constitutional scholar reads insurrection into the Second Amendment. That hasn't stopped Republican politicians and elected officials from bestowing unto the armed masses, as he describes it, "a tacit permission slip to assassinate political leaders whom one deems to be oppressive."

However, is this truly a mainstream philosophy or that possessed mainly by those who inhabit remote cabins that use the Sears catalog for insulation and outhouse duty?

No, most Americans don't buy it. They believe in ballots, not bullets.

Ah, but the NRA buys it. Executive Director Wayne LaPierre has written that Americans "have the right, must have the right, to take whatever measures necessary, including force, to abolish oppressive government." To that end, the only difference between LaPierre and, say, Timothy McVeigh, or Charles Manson, for that matter, is a good tailor.

That brings us back to the NRA's role in this election, as in all presidential elections. It has committed $7 million to save the Trump campaign.

Trump sorely needs this offering. His so-called billions have proved to be yellowed Monopoly money. He has alienated rafts of dependable, filthily endowed Republican donors. It is very much looking like the NRA is his best and last friend with any real stash.

Money, by the way, is what this is all about -- money for gun merchants. Whether it's to destroy a flock of first-graders, to clear out a night club with deadly power, or to take out a duly elected leader, to the gun industry, the customer is always right. Don't let the NRA tell you it's about anything else. And right now, so as never to encumber that commerce, it's also about electing Trump.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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