The hottest political ad of the season shows a candidate assembling an assault rifle blindfolded.
The hottest political ad of the season — I am not counting anything involving Triumph the Insult Comic Dog — is probably for the Missouri Senate, in which the Democratic candidate talks about … gun background checks.
Well, obviously we all miss the one about hog neutering.
But this is pretty darned good. Jason Kander, who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, assembles an assault rifle blindfolded while saying that he believes “in background checks so the terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”
His opponent, Senator Roy Blunt, had been lambasting Kander for his failure to toe the straight National Rifle Association line. “I approve this message,” Kander concludes, swiftly finishing his eyes-closed assemblage, “because I’d like to see Senator Blunt do this.”
Not going to happen. But Blunt did release a collection of videos of other blindfolded rifle assemblers. (“Some do it … really, really fast.”) And then the announcer reminds Missouri that Kander got an “F” from the National Rifle Association.
Excellent example of how hard it is to please the N.R.A. Really, you could serve these people breakfast in bed for a year, but then one day the orange juice is watery and it’s Splitsville.
Kander, who’s the current Missouri secretary of state, mentions frequently that he volunteered for the service after graduating from law school.
There has been a bit of a controversy about whether Blunt avoided Vietnam because he drew a high number in the draft or via student deferments. The answer is both, but I believe I speak for many Americans when I say we’re over that particular debate. Truly. The man is 66. Let’s go back to the part about how his wife and three adult children are all lobbyists.
The race is close and Kander cites polls that show most voters are fine with background checks. (The people he talks to, he added, are more worried about college debt, which Blunt once blamed on the students’ “personal living standard.”)
Still, it would be amazing if Missouri elected a candidate who’s middle-of-the-road on guns, right after the State Legislature just set a record in the extremely competitive category of Loopiest N.R.A. Cave-In.
The massive Republican majority voted, for one thing, to eliminate all training requirements for concealed weapons permits. “I am in a real estate course,” said Jason Holsman, a state senator from Kansas City, in a phone interview during a class break. “Missouri law requires 72 hours of training before you can sell a house. Now, zero hours before you can carry a concealed gun.”
Actually, the N.R.A. went much, much further, and wiped out the permits entirely. Now, Missourians can just buy a gun and stick it in their pocket.
The new law also includes one of those “stand your ground” provisions. Now people walking around after dark could reasonably presume that anybody they ran into might have a concealed weapon, and would have a right to fire first if they felt physically threatened.
Thanks to Kander, the voters will at least get to hear a lively statewide debate about whether this is a good plan. Nationally, too, this is the first time in ages that the candidates are having a spirited debate on gun issues. Back in the day, this wasn’t a matter of partisan divide — Richard Nixon said “guns are an abomination” and George H.W. Bush resigned from the N.R.A. when it failed to show support for federal investigators after the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing.
Then came 2000. I still remember a moment, during the big presidential debate, when the moderator asked Al Gore how he differed from George W. Bush on guns. I was totally — totally! — expecting Gore to retort: “Well, there’s only one of us who thinks it’s a good idea to carry concealed weapons into church.” Instead, he stiffened and said something defensive about not being in favor of registration. Gore lost, and the Democrats blamed gun control.
Now Hillary Clinton is running on centrist reforms like background checks, while Donald Trump wants to eliminate gun-free zones at, say, nursery schools and give people from Missouri the right to carry their permit-free concealed weapons in Midtown Manhattan.
In gratitude, the N.R.A. has been running an ad that shows an intruder smashing into a house where a woman is sleeping, alone. When the terrified resident opens the safe where she keeps her gun, said weapon vanishes, and it’s pretty much curtains. This could happen to you, if you let Hillary Clinton take away our “right to self-defense.”
Of course, a woman is less likely to be shot by an intruder than by a member of her family. And really, Missouri, do you want to have everybody in St. Louis carrying a concealed weapon? Let’s talk.