Frankly, Donald Trump says a lot of dumb stuff. And yet…it often isn’t quite as dumb as it seems. This is a good example: in the wake of President Obama’s tearful soliloquy about guns–never mind that Obama cares little about enforcing the countless gun laws already on the books–Trump spoke to an audience about gun control, taking a conservative position, as he should. He is right about the stupidity of gun-free zones.
But note how he vows to do two things: he is going to get rid of gun-free zones in schools and on military bases. He goes on to promise to get rid of such zones by executive order on his first day on the job:
I think most normal listeners would understand that Trump pledges to do away with gun-free zones in schools. But he can’t possibly do that. The federal government has nothing to do with such policies, which are often mandated by state law. I don’t see how Congress could change such policies, and, in any event, the president certainly can’t override state law by executive order. (He could, however, change the policy on military bases by executive order.) Is Trump such a dunce that he doesn’t understand this?
Perhaps. But if you parse his words very carefully, you may conclude that he is opposed to gun-free zones in schools, but only promises to make a change with respect to the idiocy of disarming our military personnel on their bases. That would be a sensible position, but I think most people in the audience who applauded Trump thought he could do something about school no-gun zones, too.
This is classic Trump. You think he is saying something really dumb–I will issue an executive order to eliminate gun-free schools!–but if you parse his language carefully enough, he may have left himself an out. Is this due to incredibly shrewd calculation on his part, or dumb luck? Beats me. If you are thinking about voting for Trump, I guess that is something you will have to decide.