Editorial: The wrong way to make a point on guns

The Island Now

The New York Times published an unsigned op-ed from a senior Trump administration official last week sounding an alarm about President Donald Trump’s “amorality” and “impetuous” leadership style.

Trump responded by calling on The Times to turn the author of the op-ed piece “over to the government at once!”

The basis of an American newspaper turning over the name of an unnamed source to the government for writing something critical of the administration was unclear.

Trump initially tweeted “TREASON?” following The Times’ publication of the op-ed. He later added, by tweet, “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to the government at once!”

Missing, however, was any crime on which to justify a newspaper being deputized.

The Nassau County Democratic Party did not reach the high bar of anti-First Amendment rhetoric unleashed by Trump, but it did set at least a local standard of bad behavior by canceling a party fundraiser at the Inn of New Hyde Park.

The inn’s sin? The New Hyde Park catering facility had also booked a fundraiser and gun auction hosted by the National Rifle Association.

“In the wake of Parkland, Florida, and so much bloodshed at the hands of firearms, it is appalling that the NRA would auction firearms … so close to local schools and put lives of residents and children in harm’s way,” said Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic Committee chairman.

“Let me make this perfectly clear: the NRA is not welcome in our community, and any business who would support putting our children at risk like this does not deserve our business,” Jacobs added.

Whew! So much nonsense in so few words.

The regulation of firearms in the country is too lax and the NRA has consistently opposed common-sense regulations.

But guns – and gun shops – are legal in the United States, which includes Nassau County. And all in Nassau County are within driving distance of schools and children.

Does Jacobs want to ban all guns and gun shops? To protect the schools and children? If so, he should say so.

Or is Jacobs merely suggesting that a person who wins an auction at the NRA event will be so excited that he will go out and shoot up a school?

Jacobs cites Parkland, Florida, in explaining his action against the catering facility. That is where in February a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others.

But what makes this even more horrific is how the Parkland shooting fit with mass shootings of young children in their classrooms, worshippers in church, concertgoers, clubgoers and moviegoers yet has done nothing to change the group’s policies.

Which, in turn, fits with all the killings, suicides and accidental shootings that take place every year in this country.

There were 38,658 gun deaths in 2016 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So it shouldn’t have taken the shooting at Parkland – as horrific as it was – to spur outrage and action.

More puzzling is Jacobs’ claim that by renting a room a catering facility was “putting our children at risk” and “does not deserve our business.”

How so? By allowing people who support the NRA’s policies to gather together to express their personal beliefs?

What about a newspaper that runs an ad promoting the NRA event or publishes a letter to the editor supporting the NRA’s policies?

Or what about Democratic elected officials who have supported the NRA with their votes?

Of the 52 U.S. senators who have an A-minus NRA rating or higher – four are Democrats.

Does Jacobs oppose Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) for supporting NRA policies?

Or the five other Democratic and Independent senators who did not receive an F grade from the NRA – including Sen. Bernie Sanders?

If the Nassau County Democratic Party will financially punish a catering hall for booking an NRA event, will it oppose senators who cast votes in support of NRA policies?

Jacobs can answer that question after the expected confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice and, perhaps, the restriction or outright elimination of abortion rights provided under Roe v. Wade.

And people wonder why Republicans hold the presidency, both houses of Congress and most statehouses.

Jacobs’ decision to financially coerce a local business for booking a room to an organization seeking to exercise First Amendment rights to assemble and speak is undemocratic and un-American.

He would be much better served by explaining why the NRA is wrong than trying to silence the group – and punish any venue that lets it speak.

We wonder what Jacobs and members of the Nassau County Democratic Party would say if an anti-abortion group demanded that a catering facility cancel a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. And if the catering facility buckled to such pressure.

We’re confident the president would be happy.


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