Memo to Donald Trump: You know that line you’re not supposed to cross when you’re talking about defeating a political opponent, the one that marks the difference between the usual disagreements and rhetoric and suggesting that perhaps someone out there should actually commit a violent act? The line between First Amendment-protected speech and incitement?
Look behind you.
No, you can’t brush it off as saying you were urging “Second Amendment people” not to vote for Hillary Clinton to prevent her from appointing judges that will rule in favor of gun control. The situation you described in your anecdote was clearly talking about what to do after she was elected; you said “Nothing could be done” except for the “Second Amendment people” to take action. And no, you can’t say you were “only joking,” because when you use that as your excuse, you’re trying to cover up your dog-whistle to the folks who actually take you seriously and they have no sense of humor whatsoever.
But don’t worry, Mr. Trump, this won’t end your political campaign just yet. We have gotten so used to — or benumbed by — your outrageous comments and lies that what’s one more? Your call for murder has already been pushed off the front pages by Michael Phelps winning another gold medal, so what’s to worry about?