The Reagan Speech Preservation Society

Hands Up, Don't Nuke

Modified: Friday, 23 July 2021 07:15 by admin - Categorized as: Podcasts
The following is a collection of the materials used in creating the thirty-seventh episode of the Citizen Reagan podcast about the Reagan's Radio Commentaries.





This is the Citizen Reagan podcast and I need to get in the habit of doing a few things with every episode, like asking you to rate and review the podcast with whatever services you use. Like asking you to share us with your friends, family, complete strangers and your worst enemies, I don't care really, just as long as you share it. Like telling you that you can find past episodes, transcripts, research and more on a wiki on my webspace. The address for the wiki is but if you just visit, I have a variety of other projects there. I sell digitally restored books, magazines and pamphlets. I have constructed an archive of old pulp short stories. I accept donations through Ko-fi, if you're willing help out. It’s all there on the website. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to Reagan.

Gun control is in the news, as the expression "#HandsUpDontNuke" began to trend on Twitter after President Biden gave a speech to discuss his ideas on the subject.

Gun control and the Second Amendment was a somewhat frequent topic of discussion during the first year on the radio in 1975. Reagan himself delivered a 3-episode-long talk about the 2nd Amendment, stemming from a push by then Attorney General Edward Levi's proposals to limit handgun ownership in urban areas. Later in the year, guest host Patrick Buchanan offered his own similar thoughts. Finally, Reagan reads a letter from a listener who wished to offer her own thoughts on gun laws and the drug culture she had personally experienced.

I won't be giving you all five broadcasts in their entirety here. First, it would make the episode extremely long. Second, four of the five are available through my Youtube account and I'll provide links for you, as always, on the Wiki.

Let’s start, however, with the audio clip that has circled the Internet from President Biden.
The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people who could own a gun and what type of weapon you could own. You couldn’t buy a cannon. Those who say the blood of lib- — "the blood of patriots," you know, and all the stuff about how we’re going to have to move against the government. Well, the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots. What’s happened is that there have never been — if you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons. The point is that there has always been the ability to limit — rationally limit the type of weapon that can be owned and who can own it.

The Washington Post's fact check team gave the statement its lowest rating, four Pinocchios. You can say what you will about fact-checkers, but even a broken clock is right twice per day. There were no national or state laws in 1791 which limited the ownership of arms. An individual could own a cannon, and many did.

Many people forget, or do not know, that at the time of the American Revolution, we had no navy. What we did have, however, were privateers, as many as 55,000 of them. Private ships, armed with cannons, which were given virtually carte blanche to disrupt British both military and civilian naval activities. Thinking about it, a well-armed naval ship was probably the most destructive man-made force on Earth at the time. A broadside barrage of grapeshot coming from untold dozens of cannons could devastate a coastal city of wooden structures, and a rich enough citizen was well within their rights to own such a ship, or several ships.

In doing research for this episode, I ran across details of a 1804 battle during the Napoleonic Wars between an entirely civilian fleet owned by the British East India Company and France. The civilian fleet won. It was the Battle of Pulo Aura in the East China Sea. Running down the list of East India Company ships, every ship listed has a minimum 30 cannon with some having between 45 and 50.

But, let’s get back to Reagan and the 1970s. It was the desire of the Attorney General to reduce gun violence by proposing,

that strict federal controls be placed on handguns in urban areas with high or rising crime rates. In those areas, he'd make it illegal to sell, transfer or bring in handguns or ammunition.

So, if a criminal plans to commit an armed robbery or murder, the suggestion is that he will be detered by making his handgun illegal? Somehow, that seems unlikely. Reagan asks the question: "What would deter a criminal?" and lists three things. First, fear of punishment. Second, fear of getting caught. Third, fear of injury. He immediately eliminates punishment as a deterrent because the criminal has to be caught before being punished. Getting caught, given the number of police available, is not a lock. Even when caught, an overloaded judicial system, doling out plea deals to speed the wheels of justice can result in a quick return to the streets. Thus, Reagan reasons, injury is the only remaining deterrent. This could come at the hands of the police, but wouldn't it be more effective if the potential victims were the ones in a position to inflict the injury in their own defense? Reagan sees the AG's controls as, not taking the guns from the hands of criminals, but taking the guns from the hands of the law abiding, leaving them all the more defenseless.

Pat Buchanan echoes this in his broadcast when he says,
Outlaw guns and only outlaws will have guns is how the slogan runs, and there is truth as well as irony in that statement. For if handguns are declared illegal, the criminals will keep their weapons and so too will hundreds of thousands of citizens who prefer to become law breakers rather than to give up the protection they believe a handgun provides to them and their family.

In Buchanan's case, though, he's not talking about the Attorney General, he's talking about the Democrats in Congress. He also speaks to the assertion that more guns in people's homes means a greater threat of accidental shootings, but Buchanan is not convinced that this threat is not enough to deny the rights of 210 million Americans their right to armed defense.

Reagan suggests that criminals committing crimes while carrying deadly weapons should suffer stricter penalties, such as longer prison sentences and losing the right to own a gun ever again.

In his analysis of the Second Amendment itself, Reagan takes a slightly different approach than most legal scholars,
A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Unquote. Underline if you will, the word free when you read the Second Amendment. The Founding Fathers obviously were concerned about preserving freedom. They believed that arms in the hands of the people would secure freedom. They felt that a militia should be trained for just that purpose. Now we've neglected to keep a well-trained militia but that fact alone is not reason to also give up the right to bear arms.

I seldom hear any argument made in this way. He goes on to say that the Second Amendment does not specify where a threat to the security of a free state would come from. It can come from the outside, certainly, but it can also come from within. At the time where the Revolution was fresh in the memory of the new country, the threat was, indeed, internal. Great Britain was among the world's superpowers at the time, especially with the power of their navy. As colonies of Great Britain, they would have had military protection from outside threats such as France or Spain. No, the threat the American colonists experienced was from soldiers flying their own flag. In fact, the first battles of the war were about guns. When the British started their march from Boston on that fateful morning of April 19, 1775, they had two goals: to find and capture Samuel Adams and John Hancock, hiding out at Lexington and to find an capture or destroy a supply of guns, gunpowder and other supplies stored near Concord. They found neither thanks to riders like Paul Revere, Williams Dawes and Samuel Prescott.

Then, there’s the letter, written by a 19-year old woman who had participated in the illegal drug trade since the age of 11. She states, regarding the guns,
Right now I, like so many others can buy any gun illegally for a small price. The gun laws will not change this. These guns are obtained through B. & E.'s, ... robberies and other illegal means. The honest folks are the only ones who won’t be able to obtain them. I feel I am an expert on criminals having been exposed to them for so long and believe me if they are high and have a loaded gun—they’ll use it without any rationality.

The decent folks need to protect themselves at all times.

Reagan seemed to take this letter to heart, saying it haunted him like a child's cry in the night.

Something of note throughout these broadcasts. The threat is handguns, not the dreaded AR-15, or the assault rifle in general. Those kinds of weapons were around at the time, so why aren’t they the focus? Rifles actually are rather uncommon weapons for acts of violence. The majority of deaths are caused by handguns. I found a breakdown from 2019 of homicides by weapon at Statista. Handgun was by far the highest on the list, accounting for about 6300. Next on the list was unspecified firearms with around 3300. The number for all rifles was just over 5% of the handgun total, 364. So, if I had to guess, the big bad black assault rifle is just a political bogeyman for gun control advocates.

To add my own unique take on the 2nd Amendment before I close. We are animals, like lions, tigers and bears. The difference is we have no fangs, claws or talons to protect ourselves. What we do have is the most powerful adaptation on Earth, the inventive human mind, so we came up with tools to help us overcome our shortcomings. What started with stone hand-axes and sharpened sticks has developed to amazing heights through ingenuity. Just as we would not take a bear from the wild, declaw and defang it and drop it back into its native habitat, we shouldn’t deny any individual the right to appropriate self-defense, the exception being when an individual has been found to be untrustworthy by abusing that right.

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