Thursday, March 1, 2018

Guns Pose a Danger, And That's the Truth. Plus, Who Was Marjory Stoneman Douglas?

It is often argued that only a liberal, Democratic president can alter progressive policy. Only a Republican president can do an about face on conservative dogma. Thus, a Richard Nixon could open a dialogue with and recognize Red China. Bill Clinton could institute work requirements for welfare recipients.

In the wake of the Parkland, FL, high school shooting, with numerous corporations retreating from financial discounts for National Rifle Association members and major retailers like Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Fred Meyer division of Kroger tightening gun sale guidelines, it is no wonder that Donald Trump is seeking cover for his heretofore unassailable backing of the NRA. He is, at least publicly, rethinking his previous unqualified support of second amendment rights that many have come to believe far exceed the intent of the founding fathers.

It is a savvy move by Trump but one that does carry risk. Savvy because Trump needs to expand his base. What better way to appeal to independents, and even some Democrats, than to crater into their gun control mindset? Trump is a master at reading the public mood. Clearly there is growing momentum for a review of our national gun toting policy, finally, after the second largest student death toll. 

Sure, NRA members and Trump’s conservative base won’t like it, but at this point in time he is their man. No one else in the Republican party can buck him at the polls. So they’ll vote for him because they know any Democrat would demand even tighter gun laws.

Savviness comes with risk. If Trump doesn’t deliver more restrictive gun control he will be held accountable by independents and Democrats as an empty suit (which, given his corpulent state, is hard to imagine any suit he wears being less than overfilled). He would not be able to claim Democrats wouldn’t vote for gun control. Nor could he allege Republican congressmen and senators thwarted him because, as already evident, Trump now controls the GOP.  If he truly wants gun control it will happen. 

He must deliver on his promise.

Delivering on any promise is, of course, a challenge for Trump. More than once he has reneged on public promises. Recall how, with cameras rolling, he told a meeting of bi-partisan legislators he would accept any deal they brought him on the future of undocumented workers and border security. Just days later he rejected their proposal. So pinning Trump down on gun control may be as difficult, especially after he gets an earful from Wayne LaPierre and his fellow NRA sharpshooter elite. 

It’s always amusing and often instructive to listen to how late night comedians parse the news. After Trump told a televised bi-partisan meeting of legislators Wednesday he would favor taking guns away from “mentally ill people or others who could present a danger without first going to court,” (https://nyti.ms/2t6wkJo), Stephen Colbert noted he was “doing something Obama never did—he is coming for your guns!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6dIrs0RurA)

If I were an NRA member, or simply a gun enthusiast, I wouldn’t worry. The odds of Trump following through on this initiative are as long as his ability to tell the truth.

Speaking of telling the truth, departing White House communication director Hope Hicks is reported to have acknowledged to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week that she occasionally had told “white lies” in support of Trump’s candidacy and presidency.

“Well, duh,” commented Colbert. “Telling lies to white people is what got Trump elected.”

Touché. But not really. You’d have to be pretty naive to believe politicians and their staffs don’t dissemble the truth, not now-and-again, but pretty regularly. Just accept it as the price of any government doing business, hopefully, in the best interests of their constituents. Of course, that’s why we need a free, unbridled press to put the truth on the record.


Perhaps I missed it, but in all the coverage of the mass murders in Florida there has been nothing on Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the woman for whom the high school was named. Gilda passed along this article from prospect.org that provides a vibrant portrait of this extraordinary champion of environmental and women’s rights: http://prospect.org/article/who-was-marjory-stoneman-douglas

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