Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Chris Cox`s Political Report--Ronald Wilson Reagan

Monday, June 14, 2004

POLITICAL REPORT

CHRIS COX, NRA-ILA Executive Director

When it came to support for the Second Amendment, President Ronald Reagan demonstrated the difference between mere words and resolute action. As such he was the polar opposite of politicians such as John Kerry.

The passing of President Ronald Reagan cast a pall over the nation`s capital in June. Partisan bickering gave way to somber remembrance as political leaders--from our country and all over the world--gathered side-by-side with a steady flow of American citizens to pay their respects to a great American leader.

Reagan`s firm principles and unrelenting optimism about the future of our country marked a sea change in American politics. Dispensing with the national self-doubt and "malaise" of the Carter years, Reagan united Republicans and Democrats alike in the pursuit of common-sense policies that put a new face on the goals of the conservative movement.

"[T]he Constitution does not say Government shall decree the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution says `the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.`"--President Ronald Reagan

I still see the Reagan legacy at work in the nation`s capital every day. Few and far between are the politicians willing to call themselves "liberal" today. John Kerry, for instance-- who reluctantly drags behind him a 20-year voting record more liberal than even Ted Kennedy--calls himself a "centrist." It was Bill Clinton who pioneered the still-ongoing effort to appeal to so called Reagan Democrats by embracing Reaganesque objectives such as welfare reform, and by draping candidates in manufactured coinages like "New Democrats."

Labels and parties have never been meaningful in the debate over Second Amendment issues, but the insincerity of these repackaging efforts has echoes in the debate over our freedoms. Clinton and Kerry both claim to be supporters of the Second Amendment, but the Reagan legacy clearly outlines the difference between true support and the postcard politics of the New Democrats. Clinton and Kerry have both donned hunting garb to project their false Second Amendment credentials, but Ronald Reagan knew the difference between words and action.

In fact, President Reagan, the owner of an AR-15, was a strong and consistent supporter of the Second Amendment and the NRA. He was a long time member, joining NRA in December of 1972 and upgrading to Life Member in August of 1979. He actively courted the NRA`s endorsement in both of his presidential campaigns, and was the first presidential candidate in history to receive that endorsement. He appeared on the cover of NRA magazines four times. In 1983 he was offered, and accepted, an NRA Honorary Life Membership, the highest honor bestowed by the NRA.

He was the first, and to date, only, sitting president to speak at our Annual Meetings, and his remarks clearly illustrated his core support of the Second Amendment. Reagan told the cheering crowd that: "The NRA believes America"s laws were made to be obeyed and that our constitutional liberties are just as important today as 200 years ago. And by the way, the Constitution does not say Government shall decree the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution says `the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.`"

Reagan felt at home before the assembled membership, saying "I`ve always felt a special bond with members of your group. You live by Lincoln`s words, `Important principles may and must be inflexible.` Your philosophy puts trust in people. . . . Good organizations don`t just happen. They take root in a body of shared beliefs. They flow from strong leadership, with vision, initiative and determination to reach great goals."

President Reagan shared our pursuit of great goals through the 1980s--the rollback of the most onerous provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968. And in 1986, President Reagan proudly signed the landmark Firearms Owners` Protection Act (FOPA) into law.

Sadly, some gun-ban advocates have callously exploited Reagan`s passing to misrepresent his positions, staging scripted interviews with the most biased of national media outlets to insist that he supported their anti-gun agenda and even claiming that he never held an NRA membership. I can feel only sadness at these crass and desperate lies. They merit no response; the historical record is clear and amply documented.

I will share with you, however, one additional anecdote that sheds light on Reagan`s core belief in our rights and freedoms. Little noted until his ascendance to the Presidency, the story takes place on an autumn evening in 1933, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Melba King was a 22-year old nursing student, and was walking home one evening when she was approached by a mugger with a gun who demanded her money. Reagan, then working as a local radio sportscaster, espied the confrontation from his second-story rented room. Leaning out the window with a .45 caliber revolver, Reagan sternly directed the mugger to "leave her alone or I`ll shoot you right between the shoulders." The mugger ran off, and Reagan calmed the woman, escorting her home safely.

Melba King did not encounter Reagan again until 1984, at an Iowa political rally. Iowa governor Terry Branstad knew of the incident and invited King to the event to surprise Reagan. After King and Reagan hugged on stage, Reagan laughed and told the crowd, "This is the first time I`ve had a chance to tell you the gun was empty. I didn`t have any cartridges. If he hadn`t run when I told him to, I was going to have to throw it at him."

May we all aspire to the same degree of courage, both in our convictions and in the face of adversity, and may Ronald Wilson Reagan rest in peace.

TRENDING NOW
Illinois: Senate Passes Legislation that will Close Gun Stores

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Illinois: Senate Passes Legislation that will Close Gun Stores

Today, the Illinois Senate passed an amended version of Senate Bill 1657 by a 30-21 vote.  As amended, SB 1657 would exempt big box stores from its restrictions.

Brace Yourself: ATF Reconsiders Obama-Era Policy on Stabilizing Braces

News  

Gun Laws  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Brace Yourself: ATF Reconsiders Obama-Era Policy on Stabilizing Braces

News broke this week that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reconsidered and “clarified” its Jan. 6, 2015 Open Letter on the use of stabilizing braces as shoulder stocks.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Pro-Gun Bills into Law

Thursday, April 27, 2017

West Virginia: Governor Signs Pro-Gun Bills into Law

Late yesterday, Governor Jim Justice signed two important pro-gun bills into law.

News  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lawsuit Filed Against California's Assault Weapons Control Act

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today announced it is supporting, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s newly expanded Assault Weapons Control ...

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators are Attempting to Sneak their Agenda into Unrelated Legislation

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators are Attempting to Sneak their Agenda into Unrelated Legislation

Yesterday, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton proposed Senate Amendment 1 to his shell bill, Senate Bill 233.

Research Shows Murders are Heavily Concentrated in Small Fraction of Counties

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Research Shows Murders are Heavily Concentrated in Small Fraction of Counties

This week, a new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) revealed just how concentrated murders are in the U.S. Citing county level data from 2014, researchers determined that a small fraction of all counties are ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 21, 2017

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

Public education’s long-running “zero tolerance” war against anything that suggests the idea of a firearm (including, for example, clothing, gestures, toys, food, computer images, and favorable opinions of self-defense) has claimed another victim. This time ...

Oregon: Anti-Gun Bill Headed to Senate Floor for Vote

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Oregon: Anti-Gun Bill Headed to Senate Floor for Vote

On Monday, May 1, Senate Bill 719 is scheduled for a Senate floor vote.  Based on a California law enacted in 2014, SB 719A would create a so-called “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) that could ...

NRA-ILA Leadership Forum: President Trump Vows Continued Fight for Freedom

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 28, 2017

NRA-ILA Leadership Forum: President Trump Vows Continued Fight for Freedom

That elections have consequences was made crystal clear at this week’s NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits in Atlanta, GA.  For the first time since President Reagan spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting in 1983, a ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.