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Obama’s Invoking Reagan on Gun Control Is Terrific Political Gambit

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on January 16, 2013

President Obama and Vice President Biden on Wednesday announced a package of gun control recommendations for Congress and 23 immediate executive orders that will limit gun violence in the wake of Newtown. Both men articulated their points clearly and foresaw criticism of the plan, trying to stay ahead of the instant rebuttal of Second Amendment absolutists.

In that spirit, Obama’s invoking President Ronald Reagan’s past statements on gun control was the smartest part of his presentation.

“Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. A majority of Americans agree with us on this. And by the way, so did Ronald Reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment, who wrote to Congress in 1994 urging them — this is Ronald Reagan speaking — urging them to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons.”

But will conservatives even listen to Reagan on this one? Not bloody likely.


Ronald Reagan is, as you know, the most beloved Republican figure, the patron saint of conservatism, adored by everyone who thinks Democrats and liberals are the biggest problem in America today. He may have even won the 2012 GOP primary if someone had dared to Weekend at Bernie’s him.

But compared to the current iteration of the right-wing echo chamber, Reagan is, at best, a centrist and a RINO. At worst — looking solely at governance, not ideology — he governed far more liberally than the job-killing, tax-raising, enemy-appeasing, immigrant-loving Barack Obama. Debt, spending, tax hikes, amnesty, talking with enemies … and, worst of all, gun control.

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That’s not to slag off the ol’ Gipper. Reagan, for all his greatest attributes and glaring faults, always seemed to at least act in the national interest.

Consider the fact that President Reagan had his “best-trained armed guards in the world” bested and took a bullet in 1981. He could have argued for *more* guns on the streets, as was argued vehemently by some on the Friday after #Newtown, but instead he did what he thought was right for the nation when the Brady Bill faced NRA-led opposition in Congress.

On his and Jim Brady’s shooting: “This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now — the Brady bill — had been law back in 1981.” He then went on to advocate for stricter, more reasonable gun control measures in the, GASP, pages of New York Times:

Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics. This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes and assaults committed with handguns.

This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them. If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.

Twelve years elapsed between the Reagan/Brady assassination attempt and the Brady Bill’s signing. Given that glacial pace, what President Obama and Vice President Biden have done since Sandy Hook must seem to gun control advocates like world-record legislative speed.

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