Dear Editor:

I want to present some quotations from a legendary politician:

“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. While there has been a Federal law on the books … that prohibits the sale of firearms to felons, fugitives, drug addicts and the mentally ill, it has no enforcement mechanism and basically works on the honor system, with the purchaser filling out a statement that the gun dealer sticks in a drawer. The Brady bill would require the handgun dealer to provide a copy of the prospective purchaser’s sworn statement to local law enforcement authorities so that background checks could be made. Based upon the evidence in states that already have handgun purchase waiting periods, this bill — on a nationwide scale — can’t help but stop thousands of illegal handgun purchases.”

And a second:

“We are writing to urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons. This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.”

Who do you think made these pronouncements? Diane Feinstein? Chuck Schumer? Harry Reid? Nope, it was that great conservative icon Ronald Reagan, who apparently had a much more rational view on gun controls than most of the “distinguished” conservative leaders of today. The first statement appeared in an op-ed article that Reagan wrote for the New York Times in 1991. The second is from a letter that Presidents Reagan, Carter and Ford sent to Congress in 1994. Of course, President Reagan knew the horror of gun violence personally, having barely survived an assassination attempt that left his friend and press secretary, Jim Brady, with permanent brain injuries. Reagan was a gun owner and NRA member who, nonetheless, was able to approach a divisive issue like gun control with reason and concern for his fellow citizens.

Contrast his views with the unyielding demands of the extreme gun rights advocates today. I believe that President Reagan would be shocked at the maliciousness that has been directed at our State Representative Mike McLachlan. For daring to vote his conscience on reasonable gun control measures, he was called a “traitor.” This venom was directed at a man who is a Vietnam Marine combat veteran by zealots, many of whom aren’t even residents of the 59th House District (and probably not combat veterans!).

Representative McLachlan stood up for his principles, rather than bowing to pressure from a few activists. In my view, this makes him a patriot, not a traitor.

John Porco

This story was posted on March 15, 2013.