After a weekend of silence, including time hunkered down in his White House bunker at the behest of the US Secret Service, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, finally showed himself a few hours ago. It was Monday early evening in Washington DC.
Race rioting and protests were still sweeping his American mainland, ignited by the murder of a black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis Police last week.
Unlike the LA riots of 1992, unlike the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013—the entire American land mass was speaking out. And due to domestic weaknesses borne by the mishandled Covid-19 pandemic, 14% unemployment, unprecedented income inequality, and the constant hyperbole of its president—America was being looted by brazen scum as if a single target of opportunity.
Trump’s America was weak.
So, in the Rose Garden he read a speech written with a predictable soporific cadence. This was a speech meant to calm nerves; to exude a guardian’s leadership; to impart the virtue of empathy. It was a speech his aides had been pleading with him to make for days as his administration had left a dangerous vacuum.
But we didn’t get JFK, not even a clumsy Ronald Reagan. Instead we heard a man whose megalomania as usual infected his rhetoric. Trump gave a call to arms and it included a curious statement that went way over the heads of the media. He said:
I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety to America. I am mobilising all available Federal resources civilian and military to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans—including your Second Amendment Rights.
It’s the US First Amendment that guarantees Freedom of Speech and Expression. Isn’t that what America is most at risk of losing as rioters and overzealous police stifle peaceful assemblies in protest?
According to Trump, apparently not.
So what is this “Second Amendment Right”? Well, the Bill of Rights (that amends the US Constitution—hence the name) defines it as follows:
A well regulated Militia being necessary, to the security of a free State, the right of people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Had Donald Trump just called on all American gun owners to “lock and load” in order to help end protesting, looting and rioting in their States?
Thing is, and I’m referring to my copy of Erwin Chemerinsky’s Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies here—subsequent interpretations of the Second Amendment, had extended the right to bear and use arms beyond the forming of Militias. In a number of US Supreme Court decisions this century, it was ruled that Americans could use their guns in self defence and for the protection of property.
But from whom? The spirit of the law must mean, the unconstitutional actions of Federal Government dictatorships.
Trump then went further. He also said he will:
Deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem.
First up, he can’t do that under the US Posse Comitatus Act. The United States Armed Forces (unlike its National Guard at the invitation of State governors) cannot participate in enforcing domestic law and order. Second up, that’s why the Constitution gives the freedom to its citizens to form Militias—to prevent egregious acts of the Federal Government against its people!
So, say he still does this and the US 1st Cavalry Division’s Abrams tanks and the 101st Airborne Division’s Apache helicopters start firing down Main Street USA well, according to Trump, you should now take out your assault rifles, sniper scopes and anti-tank rockets and fight back.
That of course, isn’t what Trump meant.
Trump intended that righteous, National Rifle Association registered, Republican voting gun owners should stand side-by-side with his military as they sweep urban territories.
What he doesn’t fathom, is that gun ownership doesn’t concern itself with whom people vote for—and definitely not their race. So, it won’t just be the KKK on the streets taking pot-shots at their fellow Americans. White Supremacists will start taking fire too—and a Second Civil War is in the making.
All hope now rests with the cool heads of State governors and in Trump’s advisors having the guts to explain what being President means.
Till then, keep an eye on America’s “Right to Carry” States, especially Texas where Dallas, Houston and Austin are at flashpoint. Just a few weeks ago we saw plenty of fingers on weapons carried at town halls ironically in lockdown protests, itching to squeeze off a few rounds.
The good thing about Trump, is that when he talks hype nobody really listens. For another thing most observers missed, is that when he said he would restore law and order to America, he said that would be achieved “today”.
Still, that mention of the Second Amendment. It was very weird. Did Trump think he was giving an election speech while his country burned?
© 2020 Adam Parker.