The Slatest

What Ever Could Trump Have Meant With This Joke About “Second Amendment People” and Clinton?

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on Tuesday in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Last we heard from Donald Trump, the GOP nominee was sticking to his prepared script even as he was interrupted more than a dozen times by protesters during his policy speech at Detroit Economic Club on Monday. Let’s see how Trump’s efforts to stay on GOP-approved message went on Tuesday once he had returned to his preferred setting of a campaign rally, shall we?


“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” Trump told the crowd in Wilmington, North Carolina. “By the way and if she gets to pick—if she gets to pick her judges—nothing you can do folks.” And then came the did-he-really-just-say-that aside: “Although, the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

What could Trump possibly be suggesting here? What action might the guns-rights crowd take to prevent Hillary Clinton from appointing judges of her choosing to the Supreme Court if she is elected this November? Why, an active grassroots campaign coupled with a well-organized lobbying effort, of course! “It’s called the power of unification—2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” Trump senior aide Jason Miller said in a statement sent out shortly after the rally. “And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”

To be fair, it stands to reason Trump wasn’t literally proposing that someone assassinate Hillary Clinton and/or her SCOTUS nominees down the line. Still, words have meaning, and words from the presidential nominee of a major political party have more meaning than most, particularly when your campaign has already primed your diehard supporters to respond to a November loss with violence. As we’ve seen before (see: hackers, Russia or election, “rigged”), this is something Trump is either unwilling or unable to accept. It’s the whole story of his candidacy writ small: serious in effect, if not intent.

Read more from Slate on the 2016 campaign.