Trump’s Disregard for the Facts and Guns Are a Lethal Combination

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Donald Trump, the Republicans’ presumptive presidential nominee, routinely spews so many lies, exaggerations, half‐truths and what appear to be spontaneously improvised fantasies that setting the record straight behind him would be the rhetorical equivalent of cleansing the Augean Stables.

In Trump’s hands facts are a malleable commodity, and his experiences as a real estate promoter, failed Casino operator who bilked his investors and stiffed his contractors, founder of a phony “university” and as a “reality TV” personality have only reinforced his contemptuous disregard for truth.

A particularly shrewd political analyst once remarked to me that Ronald Reagan’s great strength as a politician was that he was “a sincere phony.” But his long Hollywood career not only had imbued him with the ability to play any role he assumed with total conviction, it also had taught him which roles to pick. In the end, that and a marvelous natural temperament were what lent his public life that sunny and imperturbable aspect so many voters found appealing. Trump is the opposite—a malignant narcissist whose fragile tissue of self‐aggrandizing fictions he defends with a fierce pugnacity that often borders on the hysterical. When you’ve got as much to hide as this career con man how could it be otherwise?

It’s an old axiom of police work that even the best con man can’t victimize anyone who doesn’t—on some level—want to be conned. The secret of Trump’s success, so far, is that a certain number of weary, angry, insecure Americans want to believe that all that vexes them can be swept away by applying the sort of dramatic resolution found in action movies and television cop dramas. Enter Donald Trump and the absurdly operatic quality of his preposterous platform pugnacity. Not since Mussolini has a political figure struck a pose quite so simultaneously comic and chilling.

Take, for example, his response to the mass murder in Orlando. Aside from renewing his demand for an unconstitutional ban on all immigration by Muslims, Trump insisted that, had the customers in the Pulse night club been free to carry their own guns, the number of deaths would have been far smaller—perhaps zero. The presumptive GOP nominee made a similar allegation after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino and repeated it following Orlando.

Anyone with half an ounce of sense—common or otherwise—should be able to stop and think and conclude that, whatever their views on the Second Amendment, the Republicans’ presumptive nominee is barking mad on this question.

President Barack Obama said Trump’s allegation “defied common sense.”

The chief executive is a stoic man of reason, almost invariably calm and measured in his reactions—in this case, excessively so. Trump’s foolishness doesn’t “defy” common sense; it mugs it, spits on it and leaves it face down in the gutter.

Anyone with half an ounce of sense—common or otherwise—should be able to stop and think and conclude that, whatever their views on the Second Amendment, the Republicans’ presumptive nominee is barking mad on this question.

Let’s see: 2 am, last call in a crowded and boisterous night club where people have been drinking all night. So, you want to arm the club patrons? Half of them would have been wounded or killed by accidental or drunken shootings before any terrorist showed up. Moreover, if the alcohol impaired but armed clientele had started shooting in that crowded space when an emergency arouse, the death count would have been astronomical. All this neglects a reality of armed people in conflict with an armed opponent. Studies dating back to the Second World War and repeated in nearly every American conflict since, have shown that among even trained soldiers, the majority never fire their weapons while in conflict.

A similar point can be made about the tragedy in San Bernardino. Trump wanted the people in that building to be armed. It was and is a County mental health facility. Who the devil does he think was in there? Does he really want to give guns to mentally and emotionally troubled people and those in various stages of recovery from substance abuse? Does he really propose arming physicians, psychologists and social workers? That will do a lot for the therapeutic bonds.

Come on.

This is real life, not an action film or TV series. Shootings, marksmanship, actual human reactions are nothing like what people have become accustomed to seeing on the screen. There are no second takes in real life where loss is final and hurtful and handling a gun effectively and safely requires intense training and a special, even rare character.

The larger problem presented by Trump is that nearly all his ostensible proposals—whether on immigration, free trade, the economy or national security—fall into the category of half­-baked, self­-serving fantasy. He’s a pitch man, and all that matters is the sale.

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