If a conservative president such as Richard Nixon was a failure on gun control, what chance does President Barack Obama have?
That may be the most relevant question coming out of recently released presidential memos that chronicle Nixon’s thoughts concerning guns.
Few presidents in recent history have shown as much interest in gun control as Nixon, according to the Associated Press. The conservative president at times seemed willing to confront the National Rifle Association, which was as powerful then as now.
Nixon aides, however, worried the president would harm himself politically with the gun control issue.
Nixon’s main target was the Saturday night special, a small pistol that could be bought for $10 to $30 and was part of a crime epidemic in some large cities. The day after former Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace was shot while campaigning for president, Nixon asked his staff why “can’t we go after handguns, period?”
Several of his aides believed gun control was a political loser.
Nixon said publicly that if Congress passed a ban on Saturday night specials, he would sign it. It never happened, and there is no indication he sent any proposed legislation to Congress.
All of which leads one to wonder 40 years later if Obama will have any more luck, even against much more potent military-style semi-automatic rifles that can shoot 30 rounds or more without reloading.
Now, as four decades ago, the NRA may have more power than the U.S. president.
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