As the fallout from the now-infamous “Trump Tape” plays out on the campaign trail, a new narrative emerges from gun groups about where the Republican nominee’s comments leave women gun owners intent on protecting the Supreme Court — and ultimately the Second Amendment.
Last week, the Washington Post leaked audio from 2005 of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women to then-Access Hollywood cohost Billy Bush.
Hot mics captured the private conversation just moments before the two men arrived on the set of Days of Our Lives to film an interview about Trump’s upcoming cameo on the show.
“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump says on the tape, after making disparaging comments about a married woman who decline his sexual advances. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” Bush says as he laughs.
“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
The revelation left the Republican candidate’s campaign scrambling for cover as some GOP politicians reversed endorsements and flooded media outlets with statements abhorring the nominee’s comments and pressing him to withdraw from the race. House Speaker Paul Ryan uninvited Trump from a campaign event in Wisconsin just hours after the audio emerged and advised fellow Republicans he would focus instead on protecting down ballot races across the country rather than defend Trump’s “sickening” statements.
Trump apologized for the tape in a video statement Friday, saying the words “don’t reflect who I am” and are nothing more than “locker room talk.”
The apology fell flat for many, including Richard Martinez, who connected gun violence and what he says is Trump’s history of misogyny.
“My son was shot and killed by someone who was motivated in large part by misogyny,” Martinez, who has become an outspoken gun control advocate since the tragedy, wrote in a Twitter post Saturday. “The same thinking we see from @realDonaldTrump.”
Martinez’s son and five others were killed in May 2014 at the University of California Santa Barbara campus. Investigators later uncovered a YouTube video of the shooter detailing his plans to “slaughter” women at a university sorority house in retaliation for rejecting his sexual advances.
The tweet caught the attention of Mom’s Demand Action — one of several high-profile gun control groups funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — who launched the comment into an onslaught of criticism against the National Rifle Association and others who continue supporting Trump in the wake of the leaked audio.
“The point is that these aren’t just words … they are dangerous and can have serious consequences,” said Erika Soto Lamb, spokeswoman for Mom’s Demand Action, in a statement Monday.
“The same is true for his NRA-aligned statements about guns in America,” she listed inflammatory comments regarding violence toward others that Trump has made during his campaign. “This is some dangerous stuff further proving how Donald Trump is unfit to be president,” she said.
Carrie Lightfoot, owner of The Well Armed Woman, said Tuesday the group’s comments “are extremely lame, especially in relation to the UC Santa Barbara murders.”
“I think it shows the reality of how weak and impotent their influence really is,” she said. “It shows a desperation to validate their narrative. Trying to tap into people’s (especially women’s) fears as if all of our safety is at stake, is highly inappropriate.”
“I applaud the NRA commercials featuring women who have protected themselves with their firearms,” she continued. “These are very powerful stories and because they are so powerful, Moms Demand Action must make that stretch to try to neutralize their power and try to denigrate the message.”
The NRA, however, remained quiet in the wake of the audio leak. Days before the Trump Tape released, the association dropped $6.5 million on television ads featuring Kristi McMains warning Clinton’s gun control policies will leave women vulnerable and unable to fend off violent attacks — like she did in January.
“A man attacked me in a parking garage and tried to stab me with an eight-inch knife, but I carry a pistol,” she said in the 30-second ad. “I fought back. That’s why I’m still here. Every woman has a right to defend herself with a gun if she chooses. Hillary Clinton disagrees with that. Don’t let politicians take away your right to own a gun. Donald Trump supports my right to own a gun.”
Trump said during Sunday’s debate he would nominate Supreme Court justices who “respect the Constitution” and “the Second Amendment and understand what it means,” while Clinton reiterated her support for expanded background checks and closing “loopholes” in online and gun show sales.
An unconfirmed Wikileaks dump of documents hacked from her campaign chairman’s email account last week suggests Clinton remains committed to using executive order to enact stricter gun laws should Congress fail to act. It’s a position Clinton has publicly stated before — as well as her desire to repeal a 2005 law shielding gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits.
While NRA did not respond to questions about Trump’s comments heard on the tape, the association instead issued a statement regarding Supreme Court nominees and reaffirming its support for the Republican nominee.
“The NRA is fully committed to defeating Hillary Clinton and electing Donald Trump,” said Jennifer Baker, an NRA spokeswoman, in an email to Guns.com on Wednesday, and added, “This election is about the Supreme Court.”
She reiterated the NRA’s concern about a President Clinton appointing an anti-gun Supreme Court Justice and referenced Clinton’s opposition to the landmark Second Amendment case Heller v DC, a 5-4 decision from 2008 that cleared the path for states to loosen gun regulations across the country. During a speaking engagement several months back in this election cycle, Clinton opined “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment, and I am going to make that case every chance I get.”
Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner made the same argument in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday. “I am going to vote for him. There’s a lot of things that I disagree with Donald on. But … the most important thing about this election is who these judges are going to be appointed,” he said.
One conservative female blogger and high profile gun advocate agreed the balance of the Supreme Court and Congress must be protected, but didn’t hesitate to highlight the connection between Trump’s comments and her own experiences with sexual assault.
“My personal principles are not guided by my politics, but rather my politics are guided by my personal principles,” said Kimberly Corban in a Townhall column published Tuesday. “I have always remained unabashed in advocating for victims of crime and everyone’s human right to defend themselves. But right now, those two convictions are in the national spotlight, seemingly pitted against one another.”
Corban became an NRA advocate after a man broke into her apartment and raped her in 2006. She said she was “appalled, disgusted, yet sadly not surprised” by the Trump Tape, admitting that “most other women are used to this kind of talk too.”
“We grow up learning to deflect unwanted sexual advances and are constantly bombarded with projections of worth based solely on our looks instead of our minds,” she said. “This is not news to us, it’s just normal.”
Still, Corban said excusing Trump’s behavior as “locker room talk” is “a gleaming example of rape culture” not to be ignored.
“I have been struggling the same way many of you out there have been with who to support,” she said. “Neither candidate represents the type of person or party I want carrying my banner. With the Supreme Court at stake, I do not want a president like Hillary Clinton looking to fill those vacant seats with justices more concerned with their own judicial activism and popular opinion than they are with doing their jobs and interpreting the constitution as it was written. These are the types of decisions that will impact all of our lives on a day-to-day basis in this country.”