Republicans and conservatives, who are now so adamant in their view that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives every American the right to heavily arm themselves, once thought just the opposite. On May 2, 1967, at the height of the civil rights struggle, a group of thirty armed Black Panthers took to the steps of the state capital in Sacramento, California to read their declaration of gun ownership rights and then entered into the capital building, which at that time was perfectly legal to do so. Then California governor Ronald Reagan, the much revered patron saint of the current conservative movement announced later to the press that there was “…no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”
While president, Mr. Reagan signed into law the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act. Although granting gun owners numerous protections, the act also banned the ownership of any fully automatic rifle that was not already registered by the day the law was signed into effect. Former President Reagan also wrote a 1991 op-ed article for the New York Times that was titled “Why I’m For The Brady Bill,” which when passed on November 30, 1993 required a five-day waiting period for the purchase of a handgun and also mandated the dealer to report the sale to the local police department which in turn was required to run a background check on the buyer. Along with former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, Reagan wrote an op-ed letter to the Boston Globe regarding the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in which he declared “I am convinced that the limitations imposed in this bill are absolutely necessary.” The Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. However, this ban was then allowed to expire ten years later during the George W. Bush presidency.
In a May 3, 1995 letter to the National Rifle Association, former president George H.W. Bush resigned his lifetime membership in the organization after NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre opined in a fund-raising letter that the Assault Weapons Ban “…gives jackbooted Government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property and even injure and kill us…” Mr. Bush wrote, “I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as ‘jack-booted thugs.’ To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as ‘wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms’ wanting to ‘attack law abiding citizens’ is a vicious slander on good people.”
As the debate over adequate gun control heats up with ever more malicious slander against President Obama by both Republican members of Congress and conservative political commentators, is it just a matter of time before another Timothy McVeigh-type American terrorist attack occurs in this country by someone who believes all the rhetoric being espoused by these talking heads? Talk of the president being only just a socialist has turned ever more vile with recent accusations that President Obama is both a tyrant and traitor who needs be impeached on the grounds that he wants to take everyone’s firearms fill our airwaves.
There has even been talk of revolution, of civil war, and citizens even boasting of their willingness to fire the first shot, all because this nation has as president a person tired of the carnage all too common in our streets because of the lack of proper gun regulation laws or enforcement of current laws. Just today, three people were wounded at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas during a reported shootout between several people. One ironic comment made by one twenty-four hour news network supposed expert was that thank goodness it was only friends firing away and not some random act of terror. However, the gun control debate sunk to its all-time low when Rush Limbaugh, arguably the Republican Party’s highest profile talking head, mocked the surviving children of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre during one of his radio/television shows this past week.
As an American, I find this shocking diatribe being alleged against the president of the United States appalling and very dangerous. With radio and television constantly being filled with such hatred indignation, all it takes is just one person with thoughts similar to that of Timothy McVeigh to bring about another Oklahoma City tragedy. There is already a growing number of Americans who passionately believe our government is out of control, are preparing for Armageddon and are actually on the lookout for the infamous black helicopters to swoop down upon them at any time to take from them all their firearms. Can another Oklahoma City bombing happen again? Judging by the rhetoric being advocated now days by influential commentators and politicians, it might just be only a matter of time.
Steven H. Spring