Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Misfired: How Donald Trump's Security Fears Betray his Support of NRA and Gun Ownership Rights

by Nomad

The hypocrisy of the Republican candidates once again comes to the forefront, this time with the support of the NRA. If Second Amendments rights are so vital, then why doesn't Trump put his money where his mouth is? 

The Canceled Rallies of a Fearful Candidate

A couple of days ago, CNN reported that Trump was forced to cancel a rally in Chicago and Cincinnati after consulting local law enforcement. Trump's campaign staff issued a statement which read that the candidate had determined..
"that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date.”
Many who have watched the increase in violent imagery in Trump's speeches wouldn't be surprised that things have become overheated.

There's no question that security at Trump rallies is becoming more and more problematic. As with any mass public event in the age of terrorism, security is extremely tight.

When it involves a presidential candidate - especially one known for his fiery rhetoric- the security has to be extensive and layered. It is coupled with a strong police presence with careful searches at entrances and exits of the rally halls. 

Naturally we are not allowed to know the full extent or the details of the security plans but suffice to say, they are extensive and thorough. In short, it is a nightmare for the people who deal with public safety. 

Just a few days ago, US Secret Service agents had to rush onto the stage to surround the Republican presidential candidate.
Supposedly there was an attempt by a member of the crowd to get close to Trump. The frantic reaction was normal but embarrassing nonetheless. 

Despite all that, the security staff has been incapable of filtering out protesters. They are only able to remove them. Trump claims these noisy demonstrators are interfering with his right to free speech.

Like every politician in this age, Mr. Trump and his security team has every right to be worried. For a determined person, no amount of security can prevent an attack. There is no optimum threshold. Those of us who grew up in the time of Bobby Kennedy and George Wallace know how dangerous campaigns can be and how easily- no matter how much security there is- things can turn tragic. 

Of course, when you look at the average crowd how can you pick out the Sirhan Sirhans, the John Wilkes Booths and the Arthur Herman Bremers from the "normal" Trump rally attendee? 

The crazy ones don't wear red hats and even if they did, it wouldn't help much at a Trump rally.

Aghast: Wrong Hands and Paid Politicians

As most of us know by now, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has one of the strongest lobbies in Washington and the results of its persuasion are evident in Congress.
It's no big secret but sometimes when you see the results, it does take your breath away.

Senate Republicans voted against barring suspected terrorists, felons and the mentally ill from getting guns on Thursday afternoon, parroting National Rifle Association arguments that doing so would strip some innocent people of their constitutional rights to gun access just a day after yet another massacre on U.S. soil.
 A pair of Democratic measures - one to close background check loopholes to make it harder for felons and the mentally ill from buying guns, another to ban those on the terror watch list from buying guns - both went down in flames against near-unanimous GOP opposition.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told the Daily News that he was "aghast" that Republicans blocked the bills.
For those in charge of public safety, it was an inexplicable decision on the part of Senate Republicans. What were they thinking? 
The answer to that question is a reflection of the level of corruption you can find in Washington.

According to information about donations to individual candidates from OpenSecrets, and from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the NRA has spent its campaign contribution effectively. 
(Actually, this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to political spending by the NRA.)

In addition, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell was the recipient of big NRA bucks in his hotly-contested re-election bid; reportedly the organization spent a staggering $922K to ensure his win and, in turn, his majority leadership in the Senate. 

Not only does the NRA no longer hide its legal bribery of Republican support, they now advertise it.

Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), in a statement, gave a big high five for the Kentucky Senator.
"Mitch McConnell is a true champion of our Second Amendment rights, leading the fight against President Obama, Harry Reid and Michael Bloomberg's anti-freedom agenda. Sen. McConnell’s steadfast support of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms and hunting heritage has earned him an A+ rating from the NRA.”
Who would be against freedom?  Who wouldn't want to be an A+ true champion of Second Amendment rights? 

The thing is there are several  problems with the argument and they are fundamental points that simply cannot be easily reconciled or easily rationalized.
Trump's need for security at his own rallies is one of them.

NRA Credentials

On 15 February, Candidate Trump was campaigning in South Carolina and at a press conference Hanahan, South Carolina, he made his position clear on gun control and NRA.
“I am the strongest person running in favor of the Second Amendment. I am a member of the NRA.”
A lifetime member and a concealed carry permit holder. It is clear therefore that he thinks carrying weapons is a fundamental right for every American citizen. 
As a matter of fact, Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, are also members of the NRA.
In July of last year, Trump had announced his support for the NRA.
I am a Life Member of the NRA and am proud of their service in protecting our right to keep and bear arms. The NRA’s efforts to stop dangerous, gun-banning legislation and regulation is invaluable. The media focus on those efforts overshadows the great work the NRA does on behalf of safety and conservation.
The NRA has long stood by its belief that increase gun ownership means more public safety.
You can go to the NRA store and for 18 bucks you can purchase a T-shirt that bears NRA's Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre  quote that has become "a motto for Second Amendment support across the nation."
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Gun control advocates have always been appalled by quote. It's not only stupid but it is wrong. It's not only wrong but dangerous. They say it is a recipe for a bloodbath.

These objections are met with indignation and mockery from gun owners. There's no need to be afraid of a gun. Not when it is in the hands of responsible people. Good people.
Sane citizens who love their country.

When Taking Away Guns is Okay

Actually, the idea that more guns mean more safety has pretty thoroughly debunked. After analysis of data, Stanford law professor John Donohue and his colleagues actually found the opposite to be true. Donohue explained in an interview  
"The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates" of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder."
(So much for the T-shirt and bumper stickers but the NRA thanks you for your contribution.)
But members of the NRA- like Donald Trump- still seem to think it is true.  Let's ask Trump's security think what they think.

To be fair, Trump isn't the only candidate that agrees with this NRA position. Ted Cruz does too.
In December, Cruz told  a crowd at an Iowa gun range:
"You don't stop bad guys by taking away our guns, you stop bad guys by using our guns."
Security at Cruz rallies is probably equally tight.

For gun owners, such statements are crowd pleasers. How dare the Big Bad Government rob them of their Constitutional right to bear arms whenever and wherever they like! They have, they argue, the right to their own security and nothing stops a Muslum terrorist than a well-armed citizen. 
So goes the fractured logic.

A Glaring Contradiction

If, like the NRA, Trump and Cruz feel that having a gun and carrying it wherever you go is a constitutional exercise of your second amendment rights, why are they prohibited at rallies? 
They ought to be every place you look. 
In theory, Trump's supporters should be allowed to put into practice the glorious right to bear arms. Yet, wisely they are not.
If it is all about American freedoms, then why do these candidates want to support that freedom except inside a public gathering? 

The hypocrisy trickled down too. Gun activists like to say that weapons in the hands of citizens prevent governments from becoming tyrannies. Yet they are willing to make an exception at Trump's rallies? Is tyranny ok when it is their tyranny?
If there is any place where they should expect a demonstrate of American freedom it is at the political rally of their candidate.

NRA supporters like Trump and Cruz and McConnell all seem to think unarmed citizens should feel totally comfortable amongst heavily armed gun lovers in other public settings? Whether it is in our workplaces, at a cinema, or in a shopping mall, in the classrooms of elementary schools or university campuses, possessing a gun is considered a right.
And we who do not share their idea that carrying weapons is a right, well we just have to suck it up and get over it. 

So, why on Earth is Trump getting so worked up over his own security? We have learned to adjust.

According to experts, it costs more than $40,000 a day to protect one candidate. Presumably, a good deal of the cost is passed onto the local law enforcement. In Trump's case, given the current climate, the cost very likely to be double that.
Still, it's nothing a billionaire can't afford.

Most of us don't have the money to hire teams of security agents like this pretend "man of the people" For us, we have to deal with the risks to our lives and our children's lives as best as we can afford. 

If more guns make us safer, why has Trump hired private security firms at all? Why should there be any taxpayer funded law enforcement be used at all? A better solution would be to let his well-armed supporters defend their candidate at his rallies and let the NRA pay for it.

Thankfully, that won't be happening. From the looks of things, Trump's supporters cannot control themselves any better than his protesters. They don't appear to be any more civilized or any less volatile.

The truth is very simple: if everybody in the rally hall was allowed to bring a weapon to celebrate their Second amendment rights, the last person that would show up would be the candidate.