Republicans seem to have forgotten their icon Ronald Reagan was actually far tougher on guns than Obama

US president Barack Obama gave a heartfelt address at the White House yesterday in which he explained the executive action he will be taking on gun control before he leaves office.

Congress has repeatedly blocked the Obama administration's efforts to pass stricter gun control laws, and the new proposals are actually quite limited in scope, mostly focusing on closing loopholes to make sure it's harder for dangerous people and criminals to get their hands on firearms.

Obama's planned executive actions stop short of enforcing universal background checks for gun purchases, but there is one former president who supported even stronger changes to the law - conservative icon Ronald Reagan.

Reagan was a long-time member of the National Gun and Rifle Association (NRA) who said he took a pistol in his suitcase on his first trip to the USSR in 1988.

He even maintained his support of the gun lobby after an assassination attempt in 1981 that left a bullet an inch away from his heart, and paralysed his press secretary Jim Brady.

And yet two years after he left office, Reagan spoke out strongly in favour of a proposed bill named after his friend and colleague Brady that would have required a mandatory seven-day waiting period between the sale and acquisition of guns.

In a New York Times op-ed in 1991, Reagan wrote:

I'm a member of the NRA. And my position on the right to bear arms is well known.

But I support the Brady bill and I urge the Congress to enact it without delay. It's just plain common sense that there be a waiting period [seven days] to allow local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on those who wish to buy a handgun.

The Conversation (0)