I'm a gun owner and Donald Trump doesn't speak for me - or any of the gun owners I know. His suggestion on Tuesday that we "second amendment people" could take matters into our own hands if Hillary Clinton makes undesirable supreme court justice selections makes all gun owners look unhinged. But he doesn't speak for us. He speaks only for himself.
In his controversial comments, he warned: "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks." He then added: "Although the second amendment people - maybe there is, I don't know." Any reasonable person can tell what he's hinting at there. It's assassination.
We have a long history in our nation of a peaceful transfer of power. These days, it seems like some self-proclaimed "patriots" are getting further from that fundamental value of our society.
We all know the demographic. We also know that groups who might sympathize with these ideas have been increasingly popping up around the country. They are excited about the prospect of a Trump presidency, and why shouldn't they be? David Duke, former "Grand Wizard" of the KKK, has announced a run - the impetus being Trump's popularity.
Many gun owners believe the right to bear arms is a fundamental one. But the vast majority of us also believe that right is strengthened through smart laws that protect us and our families. We want comprehensive and universal background checks. We want required training. We want common sense laws to keep us all safe.
When I was in the US Navy, I served for a time as the Work Center Supervisor and Leading Petty Officer for two divisions of weapons systems maintainers and operators aboard the USS Thach. The requirements for our military members to use firearms include, but are not limited to: annual live-fire training, regular background checks and a "sanity check" each time they check out weapons and ammunition from the armory.
We do these things because they work. They keep us safe and professional - and handling weapons responsibly is part of our job that we're repeatedly trained to do. Why expect less from our citizenry?
Trump repeatedly claims that Clinton wants to "abolish" the Second Amendment. But what she, and Barack Obama, have proposed doesn't even strengthen our laws to mirror the rigors of the military. In fact, all they've asked for is a universal background check system for anyone purchasing a gun - something that as many as 83% of gun owners also support.
Meanwhile, it's hard to think of any national security or firearms professionals who think that what Trump said is acceptable. Hell, I don't know many humans who think what he said is acceptable - aside from a few folks who are trying to change what Trump said or make excuses for him.
House speaker Paul Ryan called his remarks "a joke gone bad." And Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said he was simply referring to "tremendously unified" voting block with "great political power". These men are elected officials.
Enough is enough. Hinting at - or even joking about - the prospect of one's political opponents being assassinated is a signal of being temperamentally unfit for the presidency. The responsibility to keep Trump out of the White House is on all of us, and that includes gun owners. We can't let our care for the second amendment mean we turn a blind eye to this latest of many red flags.
After all, in the navy's firearms training, we learn that ignoring the signs of danger can get us killed - so why would we ignore them here at home?