““I was honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on this stage today.” That was Senator Ted Cruz’s final remarks about his pro-gun bona fides at the last presidential debate. We didn’t think much about it. Over at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop generating website thetrace.com, Alex Yablon did his boss’s bidding and found a Massachusetts-based academic who’s all a-tizzy . . .
Alan Schroeder, a Northeastern University journalism professor and author of Presidential Debates: 50 Years of High Risk TV, tells The Trace, “I honestly cannot think of a parallel example from previous presidential primary debates” of a candidate on national television aligning themselves with a group so extreme.”
While it’s true that the Gun Owners of America assume the absolutist position on gun control – the Second Amendment prohibits any and all infringement on the right to keep and bear arms – Professor Schhroeder’s decision to label them extreme is extreme. But not surprising. Anti-gunners are always on the prowl for suitable subjects for vilification.
Pratt grounds his fundamentalist philosophy of gun rights not in the needs of sportsmen or those who might fear for their security, but rather the need for “restraining tyrannical tendencies in the government,” as he put it in a 2012 speech. Considering the rhetorical similarity, it is not surprising he slips into an InfoWars-style conspiracy theorist mode. Following the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting, Pratt indulged the notion that the massacre was connected with a U.N. arms treaty that some of his peers thought would result in gun confiscation within the United States.
In Schoeder’s world, in the eyes of those who seek to degrade and destroy Americans’ gun rights, the fact that the Second Amendment was added to the United States constitution has nothing to do with the fact that its framers ratified it as a bulwark against government tyranny.
Cruz is considered a longshot for the nomination. But currying the favor of gun rights extremists could keep his prospects alive as the field is winnowed by voters in those small states, where the difference between remaining relevant in fourth place or on the sidelines in fifth place could be fewer than a hundred votes. Which may be why, despite the radioactivity of GOA and Pratt outside the molon labe crowd, Cruz was the only of the 17 declared Republican presidential candidates to complete the group’s presidential survey on the Second Amendment, and was so eager to repay GOA’s ensuing endorsement at the Reagan Library debate on Wednesday night.
Senator Cruz is a strict constitutionalist. Publicly aligning himself with the Gun Owners of America may be good politics, but it also reflects his core conservative beliefs. For someone like Professor Schroeder – a man prepared to shred the Constitution to achieve his political ends – the idea that someone would walk the talk on gun rights is anathema.
It’s just another reason why Cruz is a suitable choice for pro-gun voters. Or, if another Republican candidate wins the White House, the ideal choice of Attorney General.