Tune into Fox News, conservative AM radio or any other conservative media outlet and you’ll inevitably hear someone invoke the late President Ronald Reagan, as if they were summoning a specter from beyond the grave to give credence to whatever their statement may be. During the 2012 Republican debates, if you took a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey (my favorite) every time you heard the 2nd Amendment mentioned or Reagan’s name used, you’d have died of an alcohol overdose well before the 4th commercial break.
The truth of the matter is that if Ronald Reagan was still alive today, he’d be considered a raging socialist liberal commie fascist gun grabber by the very people who place his legacy on the conservative altar for all to worship. From legalizing abortion in California to supporting gun control to expanding the size of government and deficit spending, Reagan did it all. Yet, it seems that almost every time a Republican runs for office, Jesus Christ, guns and Ronald Reagan are competing themes on the campaign trail.
So let’s look at Ronald Reagan’s actual record on guns. In 1994, he co-authored a letter to Congress in support of a ban on assault weapons.
May 3, 1994
To Members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
We are writing to urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons. This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. Although assualt weapons account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to crime.
Every major law enforcement organization in America and dozens of leading labor, medical, religious, civil rights and civic groups support such a ban. Most importantly, poll after poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly support a ban on assault weapons. A 1993 CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 77% of Americans support a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of semi-automatic assault guns, such as the AK-47.
The 1989 import ban resulted in an impressive 40% drop in imported assault weapons traced to crime between 1989 and 1991, but the killing continues. Last year, a killer armed with two TEC9s killed eight people at a San Francisco law firm and wounded several others. During the past five years, more than 40 law enforcement officers have been killed or wounded in the line of duty by an assault weapon.
While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.
Gerald R. Ford
Also, 13 years before he was elected President, Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act which banned the public carrying of weapons. You see, conservatives in California had a real problem with black people carrying guns back then, especially the Black Panthers who were heavily armed and made a point to show off their weapons – much like some of the conservative open-carry rallies today.
The Panthers, however, took it to an extreme, carrying their guns in public, displaying them for everyone—especially the police—to see. Newton had discovered, during classes at San Francisco Law School, that California law allowed people to carry guns in public so long as they were visible, and not pointed at anyone in a threatening way…Don Mulford, a conservative Republican state assemblyman from Alameda County, which includes Oakland, was determined to end the Panthers’ police patrols. To disarm the Panthers, he proposed a law that would prohibit the carrying of a loaded weapon in any California city…
Republicans in California eagerly supported increased gun control. Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.” The Mulford Act, he said, “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.”
It wasn’t just Ronald Reagan who supported certain restrictions on guns. Throughout the history of the United States, especially after Civil War and the freeing of the slaves, conservatives have repeatedly sought to keep weapons out of the hands of those they wished to keep disenfranchised. Yes, I realize the KKK was founded by Democrats and they were conservative Democrats, the same ones who fled the party after the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964. The surviving members of that exodus can now be found at Sarah Palin book signings or at The Villages in Florida with “Don’t Tread On Me Flags” hanging from their golf carts or Hoverounds.
Conservatives, by and large, support the 2nd Amendment. Some are absolutely obsessed with it and think that at any moment, President Obama will send police door to door to confiscate their stash of 12 AR-15s, 20 pistols and 20,000 rounds of ammo that they’ve hoarded. These aren’t necessarily the majority of conservatives, but they certainly are quite vocal – and extremely delusional. Sure, there are some nutty people on the left that would like to see all guns banned. The difference is that they don’t want anyone to have guns, and the right has a history of thinking only white heterosexual Christians “real Americans” should be able to keep and bear arms, along with many of the other rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Don’t believe that? Just get a few of your minority friends, put on some leftover “Hope and Change” t-shirts and head on down to your local gun show. I think you’ll find your answer right there.
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