Adam Johnston over at the Foundation for Economic Education recently wrote an article examining Biden’s anti-gun policies by contrasting them to the gun-related works of JFK, Frederick Douglas, and Samuel Adams. This caught my attention partly because some friends were discussing JFK as the last pro-2A president a few days ago. Johnston states JFK saw the Second Amendment as a right that must be upheld due in part to the fact it protects other rights.
[W]e don’t need to hearken back to the colonial era to understand the importance of the Second Amendment. One of America’s most revered Democratic Presidents, John F Kennedy, stressed the importance of an armed citizenry during a commemorative message on Roosevelt Day in 1961:
“In my own native state of Massachusetts, the battle for American freedom was begun by the thousands of farmers and tradesmen who made up the Minute Men―citizens who were ready to defend their liberty at a moment’s notice. Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of America, cannot succeed with any lesser effort.”
It’s important to note that JFK preserved the link between the “Minute Men” of America’s Revolutionary period and ordinary modern-day American citizens. Unfortunately, that linkage tends to be broken whenever there is a debate over the “true meaning” of the Second Amendment.
Johnston briefly touches on the verbiage of the Second Amendment, noting how the English language has indeed evolved over time:
Without going into a full blown history lesson, “well regulated” in the 18th century had a slightly different meaning than the word “regulated” does today. Around the time of the writing of the Constitution, “well regulated” referred to something being in proper working order, calibrated correctly and functioning as expected.
Back to the idea of Kennedy as a great pro-2A president. JFK was a lifetime member of the NRA, something that might cause heads to explode today, but was seen in a different light nearly sixty years ago. Kennedy was the only Democratic president with a lifetime membership. We’ve had eight Republicans that fit the bill including Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. And yes, JFK’s reputation while in office tended to tilt toward supporting gun rights.
There are many who argue the last time we had a reliable pro-2A president in office was JFK. Some say it was Reagan (something you might want to research more completely). And there are those who feel Trump has done a good, or at least passable job of protecting our gun rights.
What constitutes a pro-2A president? What do they have to do to prove themselves in your eyes? Do one or two slip-ups of a sort negate great things they may have done to further gun rights? Who do you think the last solidly pro-2A president was?