Let’s put at 2.5 the early over-
under on how many points the New York attorney general has handed Donald Trump.
That’s not many, but it might be plenty to make the fateful difference Nov. 3, considering that the presidential race again could come down to a fraction of a point in three or four states.
Regardless of the usual Democratic popular-vote advantage nationally, Trump again may need only about 100,000 white working-class swing voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin from people newly scared for their firearms.
The whole point of Joe Biden’s candidacy is that he offends those people less than Hillary Clinton offended them. But now Joe may need to go into those three states and shoot a woodchuck or something.
This action last week by the New York attorney general imposes a needless yoke on Democrats and provides a treasure trove of pandering opportunities to the likes of Asa Hutchinson and Leslie Rutledge.
Both availed themselves instantly, the latter because she’s running for governor, and the term-limited former because he must be running for something … still, yet again.
Arkansas schoolchildren may need to spread the coronavirus to parents and grandparents to serve Asa’s need to remain viable to the right-wing base, which thinks covid is a common cold that mainly kills a few frail old people who were getting to the dying stage anyway.
The story is that the National Rifle Association has become entirely too powerful, too insulated by that power, and too big for its britches. Its officers have been living so lavishly off gun-owner donations for so long that this Democratic attorney general of New York, where the NRA is chartered, took action on the basis that laws on how nonprofits must operate were being repeatedly flouted.
She could have done less than sue for dissolution of the NRA. But she went with dissolution, that having worked on the ridiculous grifter’s haven that was the Trump Foundation, which gave itself up on irregularities that your president’s supposed charity agreed to admit were “shocking.”
And trying to dissolve the NRA is good politics in New York, if not widely elsewhere.
I’m not judging the legal basis for the attorney general’s action against the NRA. I’m judging something more consequential, meaning the effect on the epic presidential race 90 days out.
Biden does not want to take anyone’s gun. But now the more nervous gun-owners can say it looks like his party does.
That’s because the blindly misapplied right-wing fealty to the NRA is so great that the organization, in reality a simple gun-industry lobbyist, is synonymous with the Second Amendment.
So, you get Madam Glock–that’d be Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge–putting out a statement decrying this purely political overplay by her counterpart in New York. You get this Sarah Sanders wannabe crowing that, down here in Arkansas, we will circle the wagons to fend off this attack on the Second Amendment (which, for the record, is silent on expense-
account abuse by organizations operating under laws governing nonprofits).
Hutchinson, once a circumspect pragmatist, at least by assertions in this space, went on Twitter with an uncanny Trump impersonation. He tweeted that, if New York didn’t want the NRA, then Arkansas would welcome it (presumably because our gun-owner donors don’t mind that their money has been stolen; Arkansas has a long history of just taking it).
I watched in admiration in 2017 as Asa stood up at least a little to the NRA when it pounced into Arkansas to exploit Charlie Collins’ guns-on-campus bill to try to parlay it into unfettered guns-galore anywhere and everywhere.
But I must assume that the real Asa is the one who, between elections and federal appointments, took a job in 2012-13 with the NRA after Sandy Hook to design a whitewash on that horrid assault-weapon killing spree against little children.
Asa formally recommended that school staff members get guns with which to create the safety of crossfire.
Universal background checks and assault weapon bans … those wouldn’t do any good, he said.
Hutchinson also recommended several other so-called school-shield initiatives that the NRA never much followed up on, being busy wasting donor money and engaging in internal bickering over who was getting richest fastest. (It was executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.)
Mainly, our governor put up
window-dressing for a bloated gun lobby that he now invites to Arkansas to frolic with unregulated abandon, presumably because we don’t know anything down here about auditing or ciphering or nonprofit law.
Let me leave you, then, with one crazy idea: It might be that the state of New York could dissolve the NRA without dissolving the Second Amendment.
It might be that the Constitution is bigger than a gun-makers’ lobbyist or a single pack of thieves.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.