Clinton-Trump debate exposes too few disagreements on gun rights

The first presidential debate is now over, and I’m left wondering why our major parties decided that a South Park character squabbling with the teacher from the Peanuts specials are the best we have to choose from.  In the case of the Democrats, the embarrassment can’t be laid on the voters, given what the hacked e-mail of the party committee revealed.  Clinton said that she anticipated being blamed for everything during the course of the debate, to which Trump wondered, “why not,” but on the subject internal messages, she suggested the Russians as an alternative.

When it came to guns, Clinton and Trump had some points of disagreement – in a debate, no less – though not as much as many in the gun community would have hoped for.  Both have reached the conclusion – for the moment, at least, but we are talking about Clinton and Trump – that “no fly, no buy” is good policy.  How safe we can be when both major party candidates have decided to give up the Fourth Amendment and perhaps others is a question that was never resolved.

Clinton offered a sample of her usual list gun control measures that she called “common sense.”  In addition to denying gun purchases at licensed dealers by people on the terrorist watch list – doing little in fact to prevent genuine criminals and terrorists from getting firearms – she wants to reduce the number of “military-style” weapons on our streets and require all legal gun sales to be accompanied by a background check.

One point raised by Clinton in response to the moderator’s question about the relations between the police and minorities in this country was both accurate and important.  African-Americans are arrested at a much higher rate than whites, and when convicted, many are sent to prisons run by corporations.  What she would do to change these facts wasn’t explained, since local policing isn’t a federal matter, though something might be done through the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.  She also claimed that there is an epidemic of gun deaths among young black men, also a true statement, minus the false medical analogy, but again offered no answers.

Trump had answers, claiming that he is willing to use words that Clinton won’t.  His favorite two sounded more like a pitch for a revival of an NBC series:  law and order.  He asserted that illegal immigrants have guns and are shooting people, though the evidence to support this is lacking.  Yet another notion that he presented as fact was the supposed success of the “stop and frisk” policy of New York law enforcement during the administrations of the last two mayors.  Trump said that this tactic had reduced violence in his city and that murder has been on the rise since “stop and frisk” was ruled unconstitutional.  And yet, the data don’t allow any conclusion other than to say that what the police were doing was harassment, an illegal detention and search done without probable cause or a warrant.  And while there has been a small increase in violent crime in New York City, it’s unclear whether this is anything but a fluctuation in the numbers or if Trump’s home town is any different from other cities in the nation in this regard.

Neither candidate showed any perspective about violent crime trends, giving no mention to the fact that we are experiencing the lowest rates of murder and other such acts that we have in our history.  Nor were their solutions anything but already-tried programs of dubious value.  Clinton did mention education a couple of times, but without giving any details as to how she would achieve the necessary improvements.

When either Clinton or Trump assume the office of the presidency next January, we’re in for four years of unimaginative and ineffective policies.  It’s clear that the people must lead if we’re to achieve the progress that we’ve been promised.  Perhaps then we can drag our leaders along with us.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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