Chris Matthews: What Robert Kennedy Knew About Gun Control

My reason for posting the following article about RFK by Chris Matthews is:  (CNN) The House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday (12/6/2017) loosening gun regulations and allowing those with permits to carry concealed weapons to legally travel with those firearms to other states, a top priority of the National Rifle Association.

The bill passed mostly along party lines, 231-198, the first major firearms-related bill Congress has voted on since the massacres in Las Vegas and Texas earlier this year.

Republicans argued that Americans’ Second Amendment rights to bear arms should not end when they cross state lines.

“I DO NOT want any representative from our current administration speaking for me or any other ‘sane American’. i’mgoing.home





21Matthews-jumboSally Deng

Roseburg, Ore. It’s one of those American places — Aurora, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino — now branded by a mass shooting. On Oct. 1, 2015, a 26-year-old shot and killed eight fellow students and a professor at the local community college. When the town’s name was still hot with grief, the watchword from the gun people was “politics.” No one was to talk about what might have prevented it.

It has been just like that this month. Two years to the day after Roseburg, a man killed 58 people and himself in Las Vegas. Again, the gun-rights lobby warned against speaking now, of all times, of the case for gun control. Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan ruled out action even on the “bump stocks” that the Las Vegas shooter used to make his semiautomatic rifles shoot like Tommy guns.

At Roseburg, someone did try raising the alarm earlier, much earlier in fact, early enough to have done some good.

On May 27, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, made the case right on the eve of that state’s primary for doing something about the ease with which people got guns. He was warned not to dare try it: The local sheriff said there would be hostile demonstrators facing him, knowing the personal interest he had in the subject.

Kennedy went ahead anyway. There he stood on the steps of the county courthouse looking out over a crowd of 1,500; before him stood wary lumberjacks, most of them gun owners, many of them carrying signs with pro-gun, anti-Kennedy messages.

Yet the New York senator refused to alter his course, making his case with angry indignation. He spoke of the outlandish case of a man on death row in Kansas, a murderer who had killed a half-dozen people, who had sent away to Chicago for a mail-order rifle and managed, with little difficulty, to have it delivered to his cell.

“Does that make any sense?” Kennedy demanded, “that you should put rifles and guns in the hands of people who have long criminal records, of people who are so young they don’t know how to handle rifles and guns?”

He looked at the hecklers. “I see signs about the guns,” he said. “I’m wondering if any of you would like to come and explain.”

A man with a “Protect your right to bear arms” sign did. He held a petition against a bill Kennedy was backing that “forbids mail order of guns to the very young, those with criminal records and the insane.”

“All this legislation does is keep guns from criminals and the demented and those too young,” Kennedy challenged him. “With all the violence and murder and killings we’ve had in the United States, I think you will agree that we must keep firearms from people who have no business with guns or rifles.”

Yet even this drew boos. “They’ll get them anyway,” came a shout.

It was easy enough for anyone there in Roseburg that day to fathom Kennedy’s own passion on the subject. His brother the president had been shot and killed five years earlier — by someone using a mail-order rifle. Just eight weeks before, Kennedy had stood in an African-American neighborhood in Indianapolis, telling those who’d come to cheer him that Martin Luther King Jr. had just been shot and killed in Memphis.

Then, while he could not know his own fate, 11 days after he addressed the Roseburg crowd, his own death arrived at the end of a .22-caliber revolver in Los Angeles, just after he won the California Democratic primary.

But there was Robert Kennedy, candidate for president, survivor of a president, consoler the night of King’s death, having to defend his daring to raise the issue of gun control.

We are a country blanketed by cities, towns and schools best known for killing sprees. Orlando, Fla.; Charleston, S.C.; Virginia Tech; Columbine, Colo. — the list grows, as John Wayne said, “as sure as the turning of the earth.”

Is this as good as it gets here? Assassinations by gunfire separate us from the rest of the world — from Lincoln to Garfield to McKinley to attempts on Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and Truman, the killing of John Kennedy, the near-killing Ronald Reagan, the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and all these mass shootings. They scream but refuse to be heard: “Only in America.”

I was in Montreal when Robert Kennedy was shot. A French-Canadian cabdriver taking me back to the airport kept mumbling: “The giant has stubbed his toe. The giant has stubbed his toe.”

We are not, we know, a giant stumbling in the dark. We know the country we live in. If some believe this is the best we can do, let them say so.

If there are those who believe we can do better, let them say so all the louder. Now, loud and clear, now more than ever.

– Chris Matthews is the anchor of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and the author of the forthcoming “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.” –


noun – a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government. 

Origin and Etymology of patriot: Middle French patriote compatriot, from Late Latin patriota, from Greek patriōtēs, from patria lineage, from patr-, patēr father


5 thoughts on “Chris Matthews: What Robert Kennedy Knew About Gun Control

  1. Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:

    Thank you for this well written post. We must do better in this country to protect each other from the gun violence rampant today. IS the second amendment so strong it outweighs people’s safety, common sense, and reasonable legislation. Control is not a ban. It is taking reasonable steps to make sure people are safer. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The 2nd amendment was originally written to protect. Times have changed and the 2nd amendment is not exempt from change. The amendment is broken and is in need of the voter’s TLC. Sometimes a repair requires the elimination of greed. In other words, do not re-elect and elect the character that will fight for and lead the citizens. Unless Paul Ryan has a grand plan in waiting, I consider him to be a ‘SELL OUT’. Trump is at the least showing us who we can and cannot count on, sadly.
      Read the definition of patriot. Thank you for the re-blog Scottie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand it well. I served in two branches of the military. Patriotism is not refusing to admit your country has problems, it is being able to love your country while both admitting it’s wrong parts and working to fix them. Nothing is perfect, not one country, and all countries can do and be better. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh I forgot to mention I did read up on the second amendment and why it was worded that way. It seems it was a compromise between the people who wanted a federal standing army and the states that did not. Some states feared a federal army and wanted a state army to back themselves up against being taken over by other states or the federal gov. So then they argued over what exactly could be allowed and who was in charge of it. So it really was not about individual rights to weapons, but the rights of states to have standing militias with weapons.

        Either way as you said the amendment is broken and needs to be fixed or replaced. The constitution is a living document that can be and needs to be changed to stay relevant to our own times. The founding fathers knew this even is some people today want to enshrine it in rock and claim it can’t change. Why would they have included the very way to change it in the document if they did not want it to be changed. When the second amendment was hashed out the intent was different and the weapons were different. Lets fix it. common sense is not a dirty thing, it is a great problem solver. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

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