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Who Was Tougher on Gun Control, Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan?

Ronald Reagan's statements on gun control would shock the current Republican party, who hold him up as a standard bearer.

"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?

Wire April 02, 2013 at 10:25 PM
The Reagan Library ... "It's a nasty truth, but those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun control laws." This must mean most of all news agencies today. 1989 Reagan being asked about hunting straight out of the horses mouth, not the twisted lies as reported in the news. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG4V_6pCLVo
Pam April 02, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Reagan supported gun legislation.
Susan April 03, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Not only did Ronald Reagan support the 1994 assault weapons ban, he aggressively campaigned for it. Congressman Scott Klug, a Wisconsin Republican, stated his opposition to the ban the day before the vote, but changed his mind after a handwritten note from Reagan: ”Dear Scott: As a longtime gun owner and supporter of the right to bear arms, I, too, have carefully thought about this issue. I am convinced that the limitations imposed in this bill are absolutely necessary. I know there is heavy pressure on you to go the other way, but I strongly urge you to join me in supporting this bill. It must be passed. Sincerely, Ronald Reagan.” Another former Congressman, New Hampshire Democrat Dick Swett, said he made up his mind after direct lobbying from Reagan. After his vote in favor of the ban, Swett received death threats and wore a bullet proof vest. The bill passed 216-214, a margin of two votes.
Pam April 03, 2013 at 04:21 AM
Thanks for your input. President Reagan's efforts were critical in the passage of this legislation.
Wire April 03, 2013 at 06:02 AM
So who was tougher? Don't forget the cover up of "Fast and Ferrous." it was to make Obama look tough as American weapon being shipped were killing the free peoples of Mexico. NOT SO TOUGH! By George Prudden | 07/23/2012 | DOJ Study Fails to Show 1994 Assault Weapons Ban Worked. So looks like Reagan was tougher, then! Obama does look good with using the little childern hanging around him though, hits the old heart. With Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colorado murders with a semi-auto used as a murder weapon the total numbers are still low compared to other weapons. More people are killed over a three day Holiday weekend in one of the strictness gun law States, Chicago.

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