From the Jan. 16, 2013, edition of “Viewpoint.”
This week the gun control debate welcomed a somewhat unlikely new player: the late former President Ronald Reagan. He’ll be here any second.
First, to counter NRA head Wayne LaPierre’s claim that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, this photo surfaced.
Here it is now. It shows President Reagan two seconds before he was shot in March of 1981. You’ll notice the president flanked by six good guys with guns who still weren’t able to prevent the shooting.
Then today, in his remarks on gun safety, President Obama invoked the 40th president when he reminded the nation that Reagan himself signed that letter supporting the ’94 assault weapons ban.
Now the right wing has a new talking point — that Ronald Reagan only supported the ban because he was afflicted with Alzheimer’s by ’94 and had no idea what he was doing.
Because of course, why else would a guy who’d been shot by a deranged gunman ever support gun control? When Reagan read that letter, and ran it by his staff, and signed his name, and had it presented to the world by his press office, it was just senile dementia. And of course his staff of all left-wing liberals put it out anyway.
Now following the president’s remarks, Erich Pratt, of the Gun Owners of America, actually made this very point to Andrea Mitchell:
Mitchell: What’s the problem with registering a gun? If you have a Bushmaster, what is the … I mean, first of all, why would you have a Bushmaster? What is the use?
Pratt: President Reagan owned an AR-15. Sen. Jay Rockefeller …
Mitchell: And [Reagan] supported gun control and he advocated for it.
Pratt: In his later years, and I think we have to keep that in account.
Mitchell: In his later years, he was almost killed by John Hinckley.
Pratt: All through his presidency he opposed gun control. That’s my point.
So as Reaganites like to say, “Let Reagan be Reagan.” Except when Reagan is being Reagan in a way Reaganites don’t want Reagan to be.
You see, these guys forget that in ’86 Ronald Reagan banned ownership of fully automatic rifles not yet registered.
They can’t recall that Reagan backed the Brady Bill with a seven-day cooling-off period. Their brains have been wiped clean of any memory that as governor of California, Reagan signed into law a 15-day cooling-off period, which I guess means they think Reagan was senile before he ever ran for president.
Because see, when you’ve devoted your life to Reagan worship but can’t remember he supported sensible gun control, or that he raised taxes 11 times, or that he gave amnesty to illegal immigrants, or that Reagan grew government by 61,000 jobs and never once balanced a single budget, you, my friend, have something worse than senility. You’re suffering from another kind of NRA — Neocon Reagan Amnesia. It’s an airborne virus, but nobody who has it wants to get cured.
So the next time someone tells you Reagan only supported an assault weapons ban because he had a memory problem, please remind them that today, the real Ronald Reagan would never be allowed into the party of Reagan.
Or just do what I do — say, “There you go again.”
But what do I know? I only wrote this whole piece to impress Jodie Foster.