Nearly fifty years ago, in the wake of the assassinations of MLK and RFK and not that long after JFK, there was a moment when the United States Congress actually considered, seriously, strict gun control laws. As part of an omnibus crime bill that was debated in June of 1968, shortly after Bobby Kennedy was shot dead, gun registration and licensing was on the table. It was a fascinating debate in the nation, with bizarro bedfellows, as well as organizations and the media taking stands that not only seem surprising now, but are considered downright un-American in many quarters.
One extraordinary moment was President Lyndon Johnson's message to Congress on gun control as the bill was being debated. "I propose, first, the national registration of every gun in America," Johnson said. "Registration will tell us how many guns there are, where they are, and in whose hands they are held." He also proposed licensing. And, in case anyone wanted to fuck with the man with the big dick, he continued, "Nothing in these proposals will impair the legitimate ownership or use of guns in this country...Nor are they threats to the mystique of manhood or to the heritage of our people...The only heritage that is harmed is the record of violent death and destruction that shames our history."