Dan Rather, Joe Scarborough and others have joined the bandwagon of people passionately condemning Donald Trump’s provocative suggestion that “Second Amendment people” would be able to stop a potential President Hillary Clinton from taking away their gun rights.
“No citizen who cares about the country and its future can ignore what Donald Trump said,” Rather wrote Tuesday in a Facebook post. “He crossed a line with dangerous potential. By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics. This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law.”
“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish — the Second Amendment,” the Republican nominee said. “And if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do.”
Trump added: “But the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.”
The Clinton team was quick to respond. Like many critics, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook interpreted Trump’s comments as either provoking or joking about violence against a potential Clinton administration.
“This is simple,” Mook said in a statement. “What Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”
The Trump campaign was equally swift in attempting to dismiss the controversy.
“It’s called the power of unification,” Jason Miller, Trump senior communications adviser, said in a statement. “Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”
Rather didn’t buy Team Trump’s explanation.
“Once the words are out there they cannot be taken back,” he wrote. “That is what inciting violence means.”
“Trump and his supporters have been scrambling wildly all day to explain away the inexplicable, but they can stop wasting their time,” the host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “The GOP nominee was clearly suggesting that some of the ‘Second Amendment people’ among his supporters could kill his Democratic opponent were she to be elected.”
He added: “A bloody line has been crossed that cannot be ignored. At long last, Donald Trump has left the Republican Party few options but to act decisively and get this political train wreck off the tracks before something terrible happens.”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called Trump’s remarks an “ambiguous wink-wink” to gun rights activists.
“Trump knows what he is doing, and it is so dangerous in today’s world,” Friedman wrote. “In the last year, we have seen a spate of lone-wolf acts of terrorism in America and Europe by men and women living on the fringes of society, some with petty criminal records, often with psychological problems, often described as ‘loners,’ and almost always deeply immersed in fringe jihadist social networks that heat them up. They hear the signal in the noise. They hear the inspiration and the permission to do God’s work. They are not cooled by unfinished sentences.”
Bernice King, the daughter of late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., slammed Trump on Twitter.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) August 9, 2016
Erica Smegielski, daughter of the late Sandy Hook school principal Dawn Hochsprung, also took to Twitter to rip the real estate mogul’s remarks.
— Erica L Smegielski (@EricaSmegs) August 9, 2016
Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, a Democrat who survived an assassination attempt by a lone gunman in 2011, called on Trump to apologize to both Clinton and gun owners.
“Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy,” Giffords said in a statement. “They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed.”
She added: “What political leaders say matters to their followers. When candidates descend into coarseness and insult, our politics follow suit. When they affirm violence, we should fear that violence will follow.”
The New York Daily News, which is often fiercely critical of Trump, took it a step further, calling on him to end his campaign.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 10, 2016
“People are playing with fire here, and there is no bigger flamethrower than Donald Trump,” Friedman added in his column. “Forget politics; he is a disgusting human being. His children should be ashamed of him. I only pray that he is not simply defeated, but that he loses all 50 states so that the message goes out across the land — unambiguously, loud and clear: The likes of you should never come this way again.”