I was in Secret Service headquarters when they told me about former President Ronald Reagan’s biggest secret.Um, yeah ... but having that gun, if he really did have it, didn't prevent him from being shot. The gun did him absolutely no good. He didn't reach for it while he was on the stretcher and waste John Hinckley. If he really did have the gun, there's no evidence that he ever shot it at all as president.
I write fiction for a living, but in my thrillers, I try to get the details right. So what better way to understand how a President lives for my newest thriller than by spending time with the Secret Service agents who spend so much time with him?
... 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.
“It’s true,” they said. A .38. Reagan used to hide it in his briefcase and take it on Air Force One.
Whatever you think of Reagan, you have to admit, he had a black belt in badassery.
We know Nancy had a gun, though we learned that in December 1980, just before Ronnie's first inaugural, and she said she was giving hers up:
At Power Line, John Hinderaker finds the story delightful:
I would like to believe it’s true. Reagan has said that when he was the President of the Screen Actors Guild and was targeted for assassination by the Communist Party, he slept for a while with a gun under his pillow. This source cites a footnote in the book Dutch to the effect that Reagan said he carried a pistol in his briefcase while he was president.But Hinderaker kicks the question to co-blogger Steven Hayward (who wrote a Reagan biography).
Maybe Steve Hayward knows the answer, one way or the other.Hayward seems skeptical:
STEVE adds: I think this is unlikely to be true, because the Secret Service would have had a fit.But don't detumesce just yet, wingers! According to Hayward, Reagan was still a badass master of badass badasserism!
I do know from one agent I interviewed that shortly after his election in 1980, when he repaired to his ranch north of Santa Barbara for a few days and the Secret Service was installing its facilities on the ridge above his house, Reagan got up one morning, saw a coyote, and promptly reached into his closet where he kept several firearms, got out a rifle, and shot the coyote. Which sent the Secret Service into full panic mode, running down the hill with guns drawn.Be still, wingnuts' fluttering hearts!
“I guess I should have warned you fellas I was going to do that,” Reagan said with his usual grin.
The upshot, though, was that the Secret Service told Reagan he just couldn’t go shooting on his ranch any more, and they took his guns away from him for the duration of his presidency.Buzzkill!
Or so they say.Woo-woo-woo! U-S-A! U-S-A!
In addition to putting in thick bullet-proof glass at his ranch house, which caused the wall under the largest such window to sag badly, they built Reagan a panic room of sorts -- a heavy, steel lined closet that would have been the refuge of last resort if his ranch (which has a huge and hard to guard perimeter) was overrun. They took seriously the threat of a Libyan assassin in 1981 and once again years later -- even after Reagan left office. One might have thought that Reagan would have had some kind of access to a firearm in that panic room.So if you were worried that Reagan was, um, emasculated for the rest of his life by the Secret Service after he became president, think happy gun thoughts, righties -- even if he was disarmed in 1981, he was packin' again once he was off the payroll of the damn gummint.
I do know the Secret Service also didn’t want Reagan to operate a chain saw (he had several) to cut brush on the ranch, but they figured out fast that Reagan knew how to use one a lot better than any agents in the detail who offered to cut brush for him.Did the earth move when you read that, True Conservatives?