On Tuesday, Donald Trump made an oblique reference to the possibility of Hillary Clinton, were she to be elected president, being assassinated by “Second Amendment people” hoping to stop her from taking away their guns. Trump denied that this is what he was saying in a later interview with Sean Hannity.
“Obviously you’re saying that there’s a strong political movement within the Second Amendment, and if people mobilize and vote, they can stop Hillary from having this impact on the court,” Hannity said. (This was not in fact obvious.) “But that’s not how the media is spinning it.”
“Give me a break,” Trump agreed. “There can be no other interpretation.”
“Nobody in that room thought anything other than what you just said,” he said. “Hillary wants to take your guns away. She wants to leave you unprotected in your home.”
[There was a video here]
This is not actually a logical interpretation of Trump’s comments at the rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, at all—let alone the only interpretation. Here is what he said:
Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment—by the way, and if she gets to pick [the crowd boos] if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I dunno.
Here is “another interpretation,” courtesy of House Speaker Paul Ryan: “It sounds like just a joke gone bad,” Ryan, who had just won his primary in Wisconsin, told the Associated Press. “I hope they clear this up very quickly. You never joke about something like that.”
In 2011, before she was shot, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was on Sarah Palin’s so-called “target list.” At the time, Palin’s slogan was “Don’t Retreat. Reload.” In Wilmington, Trump also alluded to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely and somewhat mysterious demise—a wink and a nudge to conspiracy theorists who believe that Scalia did not die of natural causes but was in fact killed.