(NEW YORK TIMES) — The mutual embrace of Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association grew tighter last week with Mr. Trump’s incendiary suggestion that Second Amendment advocates could “maybe” find a way to deal with Hillary Clinton and her gun safety agenda if she reached the White House.
Whether calculated or clumsy, Mr. Trump’s ugly pronouncement left a whiff of lethal intimidation in the air. It marked a singular moment of desperation in his presidential campaign — but also created grounds for the nation to demand a rational, substantive campaign debate on gun safety that gets beyond Mr. Trump’s inflammatory sound bites.
The N.R.A. stands almost alone now with Mr. Trump, as one of his few remaining stalwarts in the Republican coalition. Mr. Trump cynically cast aside his earlier pro-gun-control position and successfully pandered this year for the group’s endorsement during the primaries. And while Mr. Trump denies any intent to cue up gun-packing psychopaths, his new best friends in the N.R.A. have begun a $3 million TV attack campaign against Mrs. Clinton.
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As a campaigner, Mr. Trump largely ignores the epidemic of gun carnage that claims more than 30,000 lives in the United States each year, except to repeat N.R.A. bromides about the need for citizens to arm themselves.