13 Commanders-in-Chief and Where They Stood on Gun Rights

Throughout history, U.S. presidents have interpreted the Second Amendment in their own way. While many of them have supported the “right to bear arms,” others have gone out of their way to be gun control cheerleaders.

Over the last century, here’s how leaders of the free world viewed the Second Amendment and the gun control debate:

1. Calvin Coolidge – 2nd Amendment Supporter: One of his favorite things to do was shoot clay pigeons. In this photo taken at his vacation home in Wisconsin, he hit 29 out of 37 of his targets.

Image credit: Associated Press

2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt – Gun Control Cheerleader: In 1934, F.D.R. failed to get a bill through Congress to tax all firearms and create a federal registry of guns. Then in 1941, despite owning guns himself, he told Congress that we need a “world-wide reduction in armaments.”

Image credit: Associated Press

3. Harry Truman – 2nd Amendment Supporter: He wrote a letter to the NRA, saying he hoped “the splendid program which the National Rifle Association has followed during the past three-quarters of a century will be continued.”

Image credit: Associated Press

4. Dwight D. Eisenhower – 2nd Amendment Supporter: Eisenhower had a skeet shooting range added onto Camp David.

Image credit: Jochen Blume, Associated Press

5. John F. Kennedy – Second Amendment Supporter: He was a lifetime member of the NRA, and said the 2nd Amendment will “always be important.”

Image credit: Associated Press

6. Lyndon B. Johnson – Gun Control Cheerleader: After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Johnson reportedly told his special assistant Larry O Brien, “We’ve got to beat the NRA into the offices of members of Congress.” 

Image credit: Cecil Stoughton, Associated Press

7. Richard Nixon – Gun Control Cheerleader: According to the Associated Press, Nixon once told his aides, “I don’t know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house.”

Image credit: Charles Tasnadi, Associated Press

8. Gerald Ford – 2nd Amendment Supporter: Ford survived two assassination attempts, both in which the assailant used a handgun. But when Ford was asked about regulating handguns he said, “I don’t believe in the registration of handguns or the registration of the handgun owner. That has not proven to be effective.”

Image credit: Associated Press

9. Jimmy Carter – Gun Control Cheerleader: Carter, the oldest living former U.S. president, wants to ban semiautomatic assault weapons and register handguns.

Image credit: Ric Feld, Associated Press

10. Ronald Reagan – 2nd Amendment Supporter: In 1975, Reagan wrote, “The gun has been called the great equalizer, meaning that a small person with a gun is equal to a large person, but it is a great equalizer in another way, too. It insures that the people are the equal of their government whenever that government forgets that it is servant and not master of the governed.”

Image credit: AR-15 Database, http://www.ar15.com/archive/

11. George H. W. Bush – 2nd Amendment Supporter: An avid duck hunter, Bush Sr. opposed gun control laws while in office because he feels that they don’t work. However, he resigned from the National Rifle Association in 1995 after executive vice president Wayne LaPierre called federal agents “jack-booted thugs.”

Image credit: Ron Edmonds, Associated Press

12. George W. Bush – 2nd Amendment Supporter: Then-Governor Bush signed a law allowing Texans to carry concealed firearms. Then, according to the Washington Post, as president he supported a law giving gun businesses immunity  from civil lawsuits filed over crimes committed with firearms.

Image credit: David J. Phillip, Associated Press

13. Barack Obama – Gun Control Cheerleader: He introduced a plan with 23 executive actions on gun control, most which would warrant congressional approval. Furthermore, in his 2014 State of the Union address, Obama told Congress he would push his gun control policies “with or without” them.

Image credit: Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

Whether you are for or against gun control, it’s definitely telling to see where the leaders of the free world previously stood, and now currently stand, on the issue.

What do you think?

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