Barack Obama is the 44th American President.
Since our founding as an independent nation in 1776, the American public has lost exactly four Presidents as victims of murder while serving in office.
Abraham Lincoln, maybe the most famous, died by gunshot while observing a play at Ford's Theater. His murderer was John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer. James A. Garfield was the next, sixteen years later. He was murdered by gunshot by Charles J. Guiteau, a man who suffered from mental disorders. The next was William McKinley only twenty years later. He was murdered by gunshot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. The only one perhaps as (or more) famous than Lincoln was John F. Kennedy, 62 years after McKinley's murder. He was likely murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald at long range by sniper rifle. Oswald was a former Marine who sympathized with and defected to the Soviet Union; he was politically opposed to Kennedy's presidency.
This year, our great nation turned 240, having been led over time by 44 men. Four of those men were murdered while in office. Sometimes for political differences, sometimes because they were mentally unstable.
Two other men were not killed by attempts on their life but were injured, both also by gunshot: Theodore Roosevelt and, of course, Ronald Reagan. Further, every single American President since JFK has been threatened with assassination.
Six American presidents either assassinated or injured by gun violence since Lincoln. Six. Lincoln was elected in 1860 as the first presidential nominee of the new liberal Republican Party, a party deeply opposed to slavery. 156 years have passed since his election.
On average since Lincoln's election, every twenty-six years a serious assassination or attempt on the President occurs. Averaged since the founding, that number jumps only to 40 years. The average American lifespan is 78 years. It's entirely conceivable that, because of the increase in gun violence, gun accuracy, political rhetoric, and division in our country, American citizens moving forward will witness the death or injury of an American President three times in their lifetime (78/26=3).
Guns in most states in the country may be used for defense in someone's home to protect their possessions and family. They are not legally or intentionally to be used to stop someone we disagree with, whether politically or otherwise. That's something we can all agree on.
Or can we?
Today the newest homegrown demagogue claiming the same party that bears the name of Lincoln suggested on stage at a rally there is nothing those who disagree with Hillary Clinton can do about her potential Supreme Court nominees. If Hillary wins the election, Trump suggested, conservatives are screwed. "Nothing you can do."
This is only silly rhetoric of course because Obama nominated a capable judge in March of this year and the Republican-controlled Senate has yet to even interview him, an unprecedented move. There are nonviolent moves of opposition that can be done.
Trump couldn't stop there though. The joke was too close. "Although the Second Amendment people--maybe there is, I don't know." A frank suggestion that someone empowered with a firearm maybe COULD do something. Read: assassinate Hillary.
In a country whose citizens might see political opponents attacked more than once, maybe three times, in their lifetimes, how is this acceptable of a man who wants the nuclear codes? Is that how America is to react to disagreement?
Of course not. We're a civilized nation where we can disagree with friends, debate topics in a civilized manner without fear of us or our leaders losing their lives over disagreement about the way in which we perceive the land of the free and home of the brave. We can even respect the office of President while maintaining disagreements.
Trump cannot. He questioned Obama's birthplace and citizenship. He's questioned Obama's intentions and patriotism. He's publicly called him incompetent and stupid (he used those words). And today, as he continues to drop in the polls, he suggested that Americans wielding firearms take potential President Clinton's life. It wasn't even a funny joke.
This man cannot lead this country.