"I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.'' ---Ronald Reagan, at his birthday celebration in 1989.
On the day President Barack Obama outlined his plan to make the country safer from crazy people with assault weapons, Ronald Reagan has been invoked in the debate by both sides.
Obama cited Reagan's opposition to military-style weapons.
“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."
Reagan, who was shot while president in March, 1981, backed a ban on assault weapons and the Brady Bill, proposed by an anti-gun group formed by the family of Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, who was also shot. (See video here.)
Obama Wednesday signed executive orders to strengthen background checks on gun sales, research the causes of gun violence, encourage mental health providers to report patients who own guns and may be prone to violence. Complete list here.
He also encouraged Congress to ban assault weapons, step-up background checks on secondary sellers and purchasers and hire a director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms department, which has gone vacant for six years.(see full text of his speech here.)
Reagan, cited by the likes of the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh as the modern president who most represented their values, is the center of debate. Gun control opponent Erich Pratt, implied that Reagan supported gun control "in his later years," implying that he was less in control of his facilities, as seen in this MSNBC clip.
Supporters of gun control point to the strict legislation Reagan signed as governor of California, such as the Mulford Act of 1967, which forbid open carrying of guns. The act came at a time when the Black Panthers openly carried weapons.
“There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” Reagan said at the time, according to Salon.com.
As with everything about this divisive issue, Obama's Wednesday speech got mixed reviews. Some, such as Earl Ofari Hutchinson, writing in Huffington Post, said he didn't go far enough. Others say he has gone too far and is breaching the Second Amendment. Missouri Republican representative Casey Guernsey, has proposed a state bill to ignore Obama's federal orders.
What do you think? Did the president go too far, or not far enough? What do you think of him citing Ronald Reagan?