When he President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968, he signed a bill a that did not contain two of the items he wanted most–licensing requirements for all gun owners and registration for every gun in the country.
LBJ responded to the omission of licensing and registration with words that proved to be a template for how Democrats would use mental illness as a springboard from which to push gun control in the 21st century. He said, “If guns are to be kept out of the hands of the criminal, out of the hands of the insane, and out of the hands of the irresponsible, then we must have licensing.”
And, according to Bloomberg Business, it was LBJ who began to single out an enemy in the debate–to speak in a way as to try to make it seem that the people really wanted gun control, but the evil “gun lobby” was denying the peoples’ choice. LBJ said, “The voices that blocked these safeguards were not the voices of an aroused nation. They were the voices of a powerful lobby, a gun lobby.”
Another aspect of LBJ’s gun control push that proved a template for 21st century Democrats was his eagerness to seize on the emotion of tragic events. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968. Following the ’68 assassinations, LBJ responded by telling his chief domestic affairs advisor, “We’re going to get something out of this.” And LBJ then began pushing licensing for all gun owners and registration for all guns.
But his push was rejected by Congress.
The one thing he did secure was the pattern that Democrats have followed for nearly 50 years. After a heinous event like Sandy Hook Elementary , the DC Navy Yard, or Umpqua Community College, Democrats emerge determined “to get something out of [the tragedy],” and they frame it in the language of stopping “the criminal” and “the insane.” When they fail–as they consistently have during Obama’s presidency–they then malign the “gun lobby” and pretend the it is actually preventing Congress from securing the gun control the American people allegedly want.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.