Pres­i­dents’ shared pride in gun own­er­ship

Trump like­lier than Clinton to carry on tra­di­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY DAVE BOYER

From Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s flint­lock pis­tols to John F. Kennedy’s M1 ri­fle, pres­i­dents have shared a long tra­di­tion of proud gun own­er­ship. That her­itage would be far more likely to con­tinue un­der a Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump than it would un­der a Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Clinton.

Mr. Trump, the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, has a con­cealed carry per­mit in New York, owns at least two hand­guns and pro­fesses a “tremen­dous pas­sion” for hunt­ing with his sons. He laments that his sched­ule rarely af­fords him time to hunt.

In an in­ter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Times in 2012, Mr. Trump said he owns a Hech­ler & Koch .45 pis­tol and a .38-cal­iber Smith & Wes­son.

“I own a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent guns, but I don’t talk about it,” he said at the time.

When Mrs. Clinton tries to re­late to gun own­ers, she usu­ally harks back to the time she went duck hunt­ing in Arkansas decades ago. What the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee re­mem­bers most was the cold weather. “Once was enough,” she said. Mrs. Clinton told her duck hunt­ing story most promi­nently dur­ing the 2008 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial pri­mary, when she was try­ing to exploit ri­val Barack Obama’s com­ment about Penn­syl­va­nia’s “bit­ter” vot­ers who “cling” to guns and reli­gion.

“I was with a bunch of my friends, all men,” she re­called. “They wanted to em­bar­rass me. The pres­sure was on. So I shot, and I shot a banded duck, and they were sur­prised as I was.”

Her ap­peal to ru­ral gun own­ers ir­ri­tated Mr. Obama, who ac­cused her of play­ing pol­i­tics and mocked her for pos­ing un­con­vinc­ingly as fron­tier woman Annie Oakley.

In 2013, as Pres­i­dent Obama was push­ing for more gun reg­u­la­tions, the White House re­leased a pho­to­graph of him skeet shoot­ing at Camp David to back up his claim that he did it “all the time.” There is no ev­i­dence he shot skeet be­fore be­com­ing pres­i­dent or that he has done so reg­u­larly dur­ing his in­fre­quent trips to the pres­i­den­tial re­treat.

When pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates try too hard to show­case fa­mil­iar­ity with guns, hunters can sense the in­au­then­tic­ity. Demo­crat John F. Kerry went hunt­ing for geese with a .12-gauge shot­gun in Ohio as a photo-op dur­ing the 2004 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, but he was care­ful not to be pho­tographed hold­ing any of the dead geese brought back by his hunt­ing party, ap­par­ently not want­ing to of­fend part of his lib­eral base.

Dur­ing the 2008 cam­paign, Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney was ridiculed for claim­ing he was a life­long hunter of “small varmints” such as ro­dents and rab­bits.

“I’m not a se­ri­ous hunter,” Mr. Rom­ney ac­knowl­edged.

Dur­ing her pri­mary cam­paign against Sen. Bernard San­ders late last year, Mrs. Clinton again pro­fessed her ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the na­tion’s cul­ture of gun own­er­ship.

“I’m not against guns,” she told vot­ers in New Hamp­shire. “My dad taught me to shoot when I was a lit­tle girl.” She said she has shot at tar­gets, tin cans and skeet.

It’s un­likely that Mrs. Clinton will win over many gun own­ers in Novem­ber. An on­line poll con­ducted in July by the Keep­AndBearArms.com web­site found an over­whelm­ing pref­er­ence among gun own­ers for Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton, 86 per­cent to 3 per­cent.

Some gun rights ad­vo­cates say a can­di­date’s per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with firearms is no sure in­di­ca­tor of Sec­ond Amend­ment poli­cies in of­fice.

“Whether or not the can­di­dates own firearms is of mi­nor con­se­quence,” said John Jos­se­lyn, leg­isla­tive vice pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­ated Gun Clubs of Bal­ti­more Inc. “The Sec­ond Amend­ment is not about duck hunt­ing. The is­sues that mat­ter are the can­di­dates’ un­der­stand­ing of the rea­son the Sec­ond Amend­ment was writ­ten, re­spect for the rule of law and the rights of the ci­ti­zens of the United States to keep and bear arms for self-de­fense.”

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion has launched a $15 mil­lion TV ad cam­paign warn­ing vot­ers in bat­tle­ground states that Mrs. Clinton could take away the right to self-de­fense. The ad fea­tures a woman home alone when an in­truder breaks in.

“Don’t let Hil­lary leave you pro­tected with noth­ing but a phone,” the nar­ra­tor says.

The Brady Cam­paign to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence said the ad fea­tures “clas­sic NRA fear-mon­ger­ing.”

“The NRA con­tin­ues to pro­mote the myth that a gun in the home makes you safer,” said Dan Gross, the Brady Cam­paign’s pres­i­dent. “The fact is, a gun in the home is far more likely to cause the in­jury or death of a fam­ily mem­ber when ac­ci­den­tally dis­charged, or to be used in a sui­cide, than it is to be used in self-de­fense.”

Mrs. Clinton has said she is “not here to take away your guns” and doesn’t in­tend to re­peal the Sec­ond Amend­ment. She does fa­vor a ban on as­sault weapons and ex­panded back­ground checks on gun pur­chases.

At the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, Mrs. Clinton said she wants to work “with re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers to pass com­mon-sense re­forms and keep guns out of the hands of crim­i­nals, ter­ror­ists and all oth­ers who would do us harm.”

She wants “no fly, no buy” poli­cies to pro­hibit peo­ple on ter­ror­ist watch lists from gain­ing ac­cess to guns. Mrs. Clinton also wants to close the “Charleston loop­hole,” which al­lows a gun sale to pro­ceed with­out a fin­ished back­ground check if that check is not com­pleted within three days.

Mr. Trump, en­dorsed by the NRA, has pledged to re­scind Pres­i­dent Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive or­ders es­tab­lish­ing gun reg­u­la­tions. He doesn’t fa­vor ex­pand­ing the na­tional back­ground check sys­tem but sup­ports “fix­ing” the sys­tem to pre­vent more peo­ple with crim­i­nal and men­tal health his­to­ries from buy­ing guns.

His cam­paign web­site says he would “en­force the laws on the books” and wants to ap­point Supreme Court jus­tices who will up­hold the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

The Repub­li­can has said he is open to a “no fly, no buy” pol­icy to pre­vent peo­ple on ter­ror­ist watch lists from buy­ing firearms. He also wants to cre­ate a “na­tional right to carry” law that would make such per­mits valid in all 50 states.

He says he would get rid of “gun-free zones” and would em­pha­size en­force­ment of ex­ist­ing gun laws.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Ge­orge W. Bush hunted as a Texas gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date and car­ried his pas­sion to the White House like many who pre­ceded him.

Calvin Coolidge shoots at clay pi­geons at his home in Su­pe­rior, Wis­con­sin.

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