Gun Rights Save Lives looks at the Reagan legacy when it comes to guns. Things aren’t as rosey a lot of folks like to wax nostalgic about. But I disagree with the main source of angst here:
When he was president, he banned all new fully-automatic weapons from being sold to the public in 1986. Now they are nearly impossible for the average person to possess because they cost about $20,000.
The one thing I will disagree with is dinging Reagan over the 1986 machine gun ban. Remember that was attached at the last minute to the Firearms Owner’s Protection Act of 1986. I was 12 at the time this passed, and I had little political awareness when all of this went down. Everything I know from the time I’ve gotten from talking to the people involved with the fight at that time, and nearly everyone I’ve spoken with on the subject believes it was necessary to continue supporting FOPA despite what Bill Hughes did to it. The Gun Control Act, unmodified by FOPA, would have succeeded in destroying the shooting culture. I’d encourage everyone to read Dave Hardy’s account of the matter, who was intimately involved with getting FOPA passed into law. That Reagan signed FOPA I do not believe ought to be a ding against him.
Now it’s true that later in life, long after he was out of office, he ended up supporting the Brady Act and the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Members of his family today claim that was a result of his handlers signing him onto positions he himself never would have supported had he not been suffering Alzheimer’s. Whether this is true, or whether it’s just family trying to preserve his legacy, I don’t think is clear. I don’t think Reagan was the pro-gun saint everyone likes to remember him as, but I also think a lot of Reagan needs to be put into the context of the time.