“You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I’m pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas–hitting what you aim at.”
“My wife, Heidi, who is a petite, 5’2 California blonde, she was standing at the tripod unloading the full machine gun with a pink baseball cap that said ‘armed and fabulous.'”
Yes, it was United States Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on the prowl for laughs–and votes–at a town hall meeting in Iowa.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Normally, Cruz would do his vote-hunting in Texas. But now Cruz has a bigger prize on his mind than simply being re-elected a United States Senator.
Cruz wants to be President in 2016. And Iowa holds its precinct causes on February 1-2, 2016.
Cruz’ jokes about gun control came on June 19, only two days after Dylann Roof, a white high school dropout, gunned down three black men and six black women at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Following his remarks, Cruz headed to a shooting range, where he fired off rounds on a semiautomatic .223-caliber Smith and Wesson M&P15.
Cruz’ remarks no doubt appeared insensitive to the latest victims of gun violence and those who now mourned for them. But the comments of Charles L. Cotton took insulting the dead to a whole new level.
Cotton is a National Rifle Association (NRA) board member who also runs TexasCHLForum.com, an online discussion forum about guns and gun owners’ rights in Texas and beyond.
In a discussion thread on June 18–one day after the church slaughter–a commenter noted that Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine people slain, was a pastor and a state legislator in South Carolina.
“And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
That discussion thread has since been deleted.
During a subsequent phone interview, Cotton emphasized that he had been speaking as a private citizen–and not as an NRA board member:
“It was a discussion we were having about so called gun-free zones. It’s my opinion that there should not be any gun-free zones in schools or churches or anywhere else. If we look at mass shootings that occur, most happen in gun-free zones.”
If private citizens were allowed to carry guns everywhere, Cotton says, there will be fewer mass shootings because “if armed citizens are in there, they have a chance to defend themselves and other citizens.”
Of course, Cotton’s position–“there should not be any gun-free zones”–is exactly that of the NRA itself.
Under such circumstances, America will become a nation where anyplace, anytime, can be turned into the O.K. Corral.
Another point that Cotton didn’t mention: Dylann Roof did believe in concealed-carry–and it cost the lives of nine innocent men and women.
Finally, there is this: Even highly-trained shooters–such as those assigned to the United States Secret Service–don’t always respond as expected.
On May 15, 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace was campaigning for President in Laurel, Maryland. He gave a speech behind a bulletproof podium at the Laurel Shopping Center.
Then he moved from it to mingle with the crowd.
Since the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, all those campaigning for President have been assigned Secret Service bodyguards. And Wallace was surrounded by them as he shook hands with his eager supporters.
Suddenly, Arthur Bremer, a fame-seeking failure in life and romance, pushed his way forward, aimed a .38 revolver at Wallace’s abdomen and opened fire. Before he could be subdued, he hit Wallace four times, leaving him paralyzed for the rest of his life.
Arthur Bremer shoots George Wallace
Nor was he Bremer’s only victim.
Three other people present were wounded unintentionally:
- Alabama State Trooper Captain E C Dothard, Wallace’s personal bodyguard, who was shot in the stomach;
- Dora Thompson, a campaign volunteer, who was shot in the leg; and
- Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, who was shot in the neck, severely impairing his speech.
None of Wallace’s bodyguards got off a shot at Bremer–before or after he pulled the trigger.
On October 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was reviewing a military parade in Cairo when a truck apparently broke down directly across from where he was seated.
Anwar Sadat, moments before his assassination
Suddenly, soldiers bolted from the rear of the vehicle, throwing hand grenades and firing assault rifles. They rushed straight at Sadat–who died instantly under a hail of bullets.
Meanwhile, Sadat’s bodyguards–who had been trained by the CIA–panicked and fled.
Sadat had been assassinated by army officers who believed he had betrayed Islam by making peace with Israel in 1977.
The ultimate test of the NRA’s mantra that “there should not be any gun-free zones… anywhere” will come only when one or more heavily-armed gunmen target an NRA convention.
It will then be interesting to see if the surviving NRA members are as quick to blame themselves for being victims as they are the victims of other mass slaughters.