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From the way the right wing and the NRA talk about the issue, one would think that Obama was the biggest threat to 2nd Amendment rights ever, and that conservative Republicans have always been staunch opponents of gun control of any kind.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

For instance, did you know that Richard Nixon admitted that, if he could get away with it, he would outlaw all hand guns?

In 1969, journalist William Safire asked Richard Nixon what he thought about gun control. "Guns are an abomination," Nixon replied. According to Safire, Nixon went on to confess that, "Free from fear of gun owners' retaliation at the polls, he favored making handguns illegal and requiring licenses for hunting rifles."

Maybe living in an era when major political and civil rights leaders were being gunned down right and left made someone like Nixon particularly cognizant of the very real threat posed by firearms.

Did you know that the first President Bush banned the import of assault weapons in 1989?

Not to be outdone was the sainted Gipper himself:

It was Governor Ronald Reagan of California who signed the Mulford Act in 1967, "prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one's person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street." The law was aimed at stopping the Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners.

Twenty-four years later, Reagan was still pushing gun control. "I support the Brady Bill," he said in a March 28, 1991 speech, "and I urge the Congress to enact it without further delay."

Obviously Reagan had a very personal experience with firearms and therefore a very personal reason to favor imposing reasonable restrictions on them.  But bear in mind, this is the icon of the conservative movement, a man who apparently could do no wrong in a right winger's eyes.

In their terms as elected officials of New York, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani did much to curb gun ownership:

One of the most aggressive gun control advocates [of the late 1990s and early 2000s was] Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City, whose administration sued 26 gun manufacturers in June 2000, and whose police commissioner, Howard Safir, proposed a nationwide plan for gun licensing, complete with yearly "safety" inspections.

Another Republican, New York State Governor George Pataki, on August 10, 2000, signed into law what The New York Times called "the nation?s strictest gun controls," a radical program mandating trigger locks, background checks at gun shows and "ballistic fingerprinting" of guns sold in the state. It also raised the legal age to buy a handgun to 21 and banned "assault weapons," the sale or possession of which would now be punishable by seven years in prison.

All this goes to show what an incredibly powerful organization the NRA has become in just the past decade, when even Democrats are terrified into running to the right of the likes of Nixon, Bush Sr., Reagan and Giuliani on this issue.  

Heck, even Mitt Romney, when he was governor of MA, did more to pass laws restricting guns than Obama ever has as President. 2004 Romney signed what the AP would later call “one of the toughest assault weapons laws in the country."

But you'd never know it from the way Wayne LaPierre paints Obama as being just one eager pen-stroke away from confiscating every single gun from every single American gun owner.

It's at least good to have this little bit of historical perspective on the issue the next time some gun nut tries to make that ludicrously paranoid case.

Originally posted to Rolandz on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 02:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Right to Keep and Bear Arms and History for Kossacks.

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