I’m a gun guy. I have been for a long time. I am a collector and I have been a provincial level pistol competitor for almost 30 years. Last month I competed in the US National Pistol Championships in Camp Perry.
I have a lot of friends who are gun owners and many who aren’t. One of the annoying things that non-gun owners do around gun owners is to crack jokes about ‘taking somebody out’ or ‘shooting the place up’, etc. The important thing to note is that in making jokes like this they are not being mean. They are trying to be friendly and this is how they genuinely think gun owners talk amongst themselves. They believe this because their main source of information about gun culture comes from Hollywood and the media. When their joke is received with rolling eyes and blank stares, they are perplexed.
In contrast, gun owners never speak to each other this way. Why? Well one reason is that we have the tools and the skills to carry out the implied threat that would be joked about. We are afraid somebody will take us seriously. With great means comes great responsibility. Or as Robert Heinlein put it, “an armed society is a polite society.”
For instance, I would never, ever make an assassination joke because I sometimes travel across the border with handguns to attend shooting competitions (with all the correct ATF paperwork filled out, of course). The last thing I want is for US Customs to pull me over at the border because I have been flagged by the Secret Service as a possible threat. Non-gun owners make the kind of jokes they do because they do not understand this reality.
In making his “Second Amendment people” joke about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump comes across to me like one of those non-gun owners. Clearly, the part of his speech where he delivered that line was an attempt to curry favour with American gun owners. In his ham-fisted attempt at humour, he ticked us off because we know we are not like that. He was playing to a caricature created by liberal disinformation to discredit us – one that we are continuously trying to distance ourselves from.
Andrew Klavan’s theory about Donald Trump is that he is living up to the liberal media’s caricature of a conservative because the liberal caricature of conservatives is all that he knows. He is opportunist who saw an opening in the GOP and he must put on the best act he can.
Trump’s assassination comments, while also distasteful and inappropriate, is a data point that Klavan is onto something.