It does not matter at this point whether Drumpf was "joking" or "sarcastic" or whatever bullshit he and his lackeys pull out of their asses. It might have made a difference several months ago, but that time has passed. Coming just a couple weeks after one of his campaign advisors openly called for HFC to be "shot for treason," and not only went unpunished by the campaign but has since been praised by Drumpf himself, it's irrelevant whether Drumpf just had a Freudian slip in the midst of another word-salad, or if he was dog-whistling.
Honestly, I have no real idea if Drumpf actually wants or expects Hillary Clinton to be attacked or assassinated by would-be Second Amendment "defenders." And that itself is a major part of the problem here -- that you can't really tell. He routinely speaks in such vitriolic, heavily personalized language that assumptions change. In the past week alone he's referred to her as a "devil" and a "monster." It's only a matter of time before one of the halfwits in the crowd decides to take him literally. If they think someone is an actual monster who will bring on the apocalypse, they might do just about anything to prevent them from succeeding.
He has staked his campaign on painting a heightened, hyperbolic caricature of his opponent. This requires not only calling her a monster, but lying about her positions as well. He has to know that he's lying, but beyond that, he knows that we all know he's full of shit. He counts on his cult not caring about any of that. They have their own set of facts, which change and morph with Dear Leader's mercurial temperament.
For one, the idea that HFC can or desires to "take away your guns" is a flat-out lie; she seems to fall into the generic liberal group of people who do not understand the gun fetish this country has, but is content with finding ways to keep assault weapons out of the hands of lunatics. People may disagree with that position, but it is hardly that of an ultra-radical gun-grabber.
Whatever else she is, HFC is a realist, and therefore has to understand that it is impossible -- not just difficult or challenging, but literally impossible -- to physically confiscate firearms in a country this large in area and population. And it would be nearly as daunting to attempt to fine-tune the wording of the Second Amendment. It's just not gonna happen, folks, and she knows it. Best she might be hoping for is an opportunity to improve and standardize background checks, maybe keep criminals from selling each other weapons out of the trunks of their cars.
The gun issue is incidental to the main point; Drumpf lies about everything, every issue, every attribution of a position by any opponent. People have been habituated to call HFC a liar, but lying is the only thing Drumpf does. But in the past few weeks, he has emphasized several threads -- she's an incompetent traitor; the elections are rigged; the debates are rigged -- that are central to his effort to boost his flagging scam of a candidacy by attempting to delegitimize her as a candidate, and the process in general.
Ancillary to that effort is instigating a sufficient number of like-minded cultists -- who already share a disdain for facts and a propensity for mindless violence -- to take action in the face of a process that He, Drumpf has cannily identified in advance as illegitimate. He has even taken to insinuating that without voter ID laws, not only might people be able to vote illegally, but they might be able to do such a thing many times over.
At times, Drumpf veers between insinuations, but generally seems to land on the notion that the ID-free voter will simply precinct-hop ten or fifteen times throughout the course of Election Day, presumably on a DNC-funded bus or Uber. This premise mostly demonstrates the increasing unlikelihood that Drumpf himself has ever voted -- or if he has, that he has no idea whatsoever how the mechanics of the process work, or even that in a country where barely half the people can be roused from their couches to vote once, it is preposterous to think that anyone might want, much less be able, to do so fifteen times in a single day.
Consider Drumpf's full career trajectory, since the 1970's. By most accounts, he may have actually been at his peak as far as having a productive skill when his dad did the backroom deals with the pols and weasels, and Donald concentrated on actually building things, going to the sites and really coordinating projects. It didn't hurt that Fred 'n' Don were able to take advantage of New York being a crime-ridden shithole back then, and snap up choice real estate at a fraction of its future market value.
The career arc went south in the '80s and '90s, between personal and business fuck-ups, and Drumpf's insatiable need for attention ensured that it was all as public as possible. Somewhere along the line, Donny Boy realized that his soul is a bottomless pit that can never be filled, that while he has no pedestrian vices like drinking or smoking, he craves validation and adulation like the worst sort of heroin fiend, the kind that will suck your filthy, glistening cock in an alley for a single fix. His biggest goal in life became getting on Page Six in the Post, and if that meant calling them up and pretending to be someone else, like a half-assed teenaged crank caller asking if you had Prince Albert in a can, then so be it, as long as it got his name in print.
So it makes sense that in our new and improved millennium, Drumpf has found his true calling. Between pro wrestling and reality teevee (apologies for being redundant there), he finally had a venue for his real skill set -- branding. When you get right down to it, he's really just the ShamWow guy -- except that if he had a billion dollars the real ShamWow guy, like most of us, would just buy a fucking island and disappear, instead of capering about in a pricey weave and a cheap Twitter account like the world's biggest asshole.
So all of this really is a joke to Drumpf. It's not an elaborate, extended set piece; Drumpf has neither the intellect nor the attention span for that. He's not Andy Kaufman -- hell, he's not even Joaquin Phoenix. But it is a joke in the sense that Drumpf could not find it in himself to take a single issue or idea seriously enough to actually learn anything about it.
I'll tell you the same thing I tell my Drumpf-loving friends and co-workers -- don't take my word for any of this. Check it all out for yourselves, but avoid the easy sound bites and headlines and cheap clickbait nonsense. Watch the rallies in their entirety. Read the interview transcripts, front to back. Drumpf prides himself on speaking extemporaneously, like he thinks he's a fucking Wallenda without a net or something, but he's an idiot, a drunk on a barstool, both in content and style.
He repeats himself endlessly, and when you read multiple interviews and listen to multiple rallies, it becomes clear why that is: while he is not rehearsed in the literal sense, he is also not spontaneous. He has a mental pile of riffs through which he sifts, gauging the audience's reaction for future use. He punctuates these with rambling, babbling discursions that are utterly meaningless (I would bet that at least 40-50% of any given Drumpf speech or interview could be tossed right of the top as redundant), and with creative interpretations of whatever he just saw on teevee. He's given enough interviews to reveal himself as genuinely ignorant on any given subject of import. He can probably find Russia on a map, but beyond that, he really doesn't seem to have any intrinsic knowledge that one might ordinarily expect from the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.
Maybe that's the joke, that he got so far on pure bluster and bullshit, more so than any professional politician in recent memory. Unfortunately, the punchline seems to be a more deeply divided and discordant electorate, a seething cult of impressionable maroons that seems primed to violence, and who have now been multiply signaled that the election results only count if their side wins.