Twenty-five years ago a nationally known politician took to the editorial pages of the New York Times to write, “Why I’m for the Brady Bill.” The rationale sounds pretty familiar.
Named for Jim Brady, this legislation would establish a national seven-day waiting period before a handgun purchaser could take delivery. It would allow local law enforcement officials to do background checks for criminal records or known histories of mental disturbances. Those with such records would be prohibited from buying the handguns…
Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics. This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes and assaults committed with handguns.
This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them. If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.
Some of those arguments are strikingly similar to the ones made by President Obama yesterday. For example, seeing value in reducing handgun deaths by 10 or 15 percent is positively ambitious compared to this:
We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence.
Of course the writer of this op-ed was not required to acknowledge the importance of the second amendment and – to my knowledge – was never accused of trying to take our guns away. Funny that.
So have you guessed (or remembered) who wrote that op-ed? It was the patron saint of Republicans – Ronald Reagan – who himself had experienced a near-miss on his own life as a result of gun violence.
Let’s be clear…the NRA fought against passage of the Brady Bill and eventually managed to de-fang some of its provisions in court. But they have gotten increasingly strident over the years – which is why George H.W. Bush revoked his lifetime membership in the organization after they called federal agents “jack-booted thugs” in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.
It is interesting to note that compared to what we are hearing today, Republicans like Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush sound positively rational. This, my friends, is the Republican Party today (via Ted Cruz campaign):