Ronald Reagan’s ‘Biggest Secret’ Revealed, Even Bush Sr. Didn’t Know About It

Author Brad Meltzer stumbled across some interesting news while doing a research piece for his latest book at Secret Service headquarters in Washington D.C.  He was talking to a few agents and touring a small museum they had on premises, chit-chatting about little-known facts and whatnot when one agent dropped a truth bomb on him that he was not expecting to find out that day:

We were talking about Reagan and that day he was shot. Then one of the agents offered this secret: When Reagan was President, he carried his own gun.

I couldn’t believe it.

After hearing this, the agents repeated the news again in order for the reality of the situation to fully seep in just a bit faster. “It’s true,” they said.  Reagan carried a .38 handgun around with him. He even used to hide it in his briefcase and take it on Air Force One with him.

Meltzer reached out to President George H.W. Bush, with whom he has discussed many issues with over the years. He personally asked him what he carried around with him on a day-to-day basis. The only thing Bush had in his pockets was a driver’s license. According to Meltzer:

“Bush was far more impressed with the initial news about his former boss. He had no idea Reagan carried a gun.”

While this is still news to many, it was actually first reported on in a book by Ron Kessler, “In the President’s Secret Service.” A former agent noticed Reagan wearing a pistol and asked him what it was for while he was running for President the first time. Reagan responded:

“Well, just in case you guys can’t do the job, I can help out.”

As history recalls, this philosophy didn’t exactly work out too well in Reagan’s favor when agents didn’t do “their job.” As everyone is all too aware by now, Reagan was shot by John Hinckley in the chest and lower right arm. As a result of these injuries, Reagan suffered a punctured lung and heavy internal bleeding.

This latest revelation about the Gipper is surely to get right-wingers even more worked up and hellbent on gun rights. The new phrase among conservatives will undoubtedly be, “Even Reagan didn’t trust the Secret Service to fully protect him. How can you expect us to give up our guns? He didn’t.”

For arguments sake, though: If Reagan jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?

In many aspects, Reagan did throw the country off a bridge. His policies obliterated the poor and the middle class – the same groups of voters he stumped around the country claiming to support. Ironically, he made these same classes of people fall in love with him on 2nd amendment issues like this while robbing them blind economically.

While Reagan was clearly a proponent of a person’s ability to carry a concealed weapon, this does not mean that Reagan was the gun-loving freak today’s NRA supporters all too often imagine him to be. In fact, getting shot is what prompted Reagan to support The Brady Bill, which called for a national background check and mandatory waiting period for handgun purchases.

Referencing statistics that showed 9,200 murders being committed every single year at the time, Reagan said:

This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them.

Still, even though it’s ludicrous to learn that Reagan thought it was necessary to “pack heat” while being afforded the best personal protection in the world by our nation’s Secret Service, you have to admit it was a pretty bad-ass thing for him to do. Just don’t let this confuse you on his positions regarding gun control.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons