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Ronald Reagan carried A GUN as president, author claims; ‘blackbelt in badassery’

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Ronald Reagan might have played it cool when he was outsmarting the Russians, but he was packing heat when he served as president.

In an article penned Saturday for the New York Daily News Brad Meltzer, who specializes in fictional political thrillers, said he learned Reagan was usually armed when he was in office while touring a museum at the Secret Service headquarters and researching a new book.

The museum contains various keepsakes, including a replica of the rifle Lee Harvey Oswald used to kill President Kennedy, a pistol used to try to assassinate President Ford and the limousine door from John Hinckley Jr.’s attempt to assassinate Reagan in 1981.

The president didn’t have his briefcase on March 30, 1981, when a gunman attempted to assassinate him. (Photo: Encyclopedia Britannica)

From The Daily News:

It was an eerie keepsake for sure. But not nearly as eerie as the next detail they told me. 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.

Yet the more I thought about this new piece of news, the more I started wondering: If Reagan could carry a gun, what have other Presidents carried with them? To find the answer, I contacted former President George H.W. Bush, who’s been kind enough to answer questions as I research my novels. But Bush was far more impressed with the initial news about his former boss. He had no idea Reagan carried a gun.

(Reagan wasn’t carrying his briefcase, remember, when Hinckley tried to bring a premature end to one of the greatest presidencies of the 20th century.)

As for the current president, Meltzer said Obama carries a Blackberry and some knickknacks.

Fitting, somehow.

Carmine Sabia


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