FACT CHECK: Did Ronald Reagan Say, ‘Any Attempt To Disarm The People Must Be Stopped, By Force If Necessary’?

Aislinn Murphy | Assistant Managing Editor

An image shared on Facebook credits the late President Ronald Reagan with saying, “Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the people must be stopped, by force if necessary.”

Verdict: False

German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels actually penned this quote for an address to the Communist League in 1850.

Fact Check:

Reagan, who once promised to abolish the federal agency responsible for regulating firearms, left a complicated legacy on gun rights. He didn’t push for significant gun control laws during his presidency, but he did support two major pieces of legislation after leaving office: the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

The Brady Bill, which instituted background checks for firearms purchases, was named after Reagan’s press secretary James Brady, who was shot in the 1981 assassination attempt against Reagan. In 1994, he joined former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in endorsing the 10-year ban on assault weapons.

However, there is no evidence that Reagan, who was a member of the National Rifle Association, ever said this quote against gun control.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library keeps a collection of selected speeches from Reagan, going as far back as his tenure as governor of California, yet there is no record of him saying the quote in the library’s digital archive.

“I never heard or read this from Reagan, and it certainly does not sound like him,” Dr. H.W. Brands, professor at the University of Texas at Austin and Reagan biographer, said in an email to The Daily Caller. “He was not one to advocate armed resistance to America’s own government.”

A quick Google search reveals the quote actually came from an 1850 speech written by Marx and Engels, who famously co-authored “The Communist Manifesto.” They included the quote in a speech delivered to the Communist League.

“Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered,” reads the original quote. “Any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”

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Aislinn Murphy

Assistant Managing Editor