Q. My name is Chris Allen. I'm from Poolesville Junior-Senior High School. I was just wondering what you and Mrs. Reagan feel about the new gun ban law.
The President. What we feel about the new -- --
Q. Gun ban law.
The President. The gun -- --
The President. Gun ban? Well, I think there has to be some control. But I thought that in California we had a system that probably was the best. I have never felt that we should, for the law-abiding citizens, take the gun away from them and make it impossible to have one. I think the wrong people will always find a way to get one. But what we had was -- even if today when I go back to California, if I want a gun and go in a store to buy a gun, I have to give them the money, but I have to wait a week, no matter who I am. I have to wait a week and come back then to get the gun, because in that week, my name is presented to investigative element there in the State that checks to make sure that I have no criminal record, that I have no record of mental problems or anything of the kind. Then, and only then, can you pick up the gun and take it with you.
But if I could, I know we're running out of time, but let me just tell you something that -- I got the strangest letter when I was Governor. There was talk about having a gun ban in California. It didn't go through. But I got a letter from a man in San Quentin prison, and from the prison he wrote me the letter to tell me he was in there for burglary. He was a burglar. And he said, ``I just want you to know that if that law goes through, here in San Quentin there will be celebrating throughout the day and night by all the burglars who are in prison because'' he said, ``we can watch a house we plan to rob for days. We can learn the habits of the people living in that house, to know when is the best time to go in and be a burglar -- rob it.'' He said, ``The only question we can never answer is: Does the man in that house have a gun in the drawer by his bed?'' He said, ``That's a risk we have to run.'' He said, ``If you tell us in advance they won't have a gun in that drawer by their bed,'' he said, ``the burglars in here will be celebrating forevermore.''
I thought he made kind of some common sense. And I don't know why to this day he ever chose to send the letter to me.
All right, this gentleman.
Q. Anil Artis from Jefferson Junior High School. Do you think the ``Saturday night special'' should be banned?
The President. The what?
Q. Do you think the ``Saturday night special'' should be banned?
The President. Well, I don't have very much of a quarrel with the very cheap weapon and so forth that makes it so easy for the wrong people to have a gun. I would like to see us concentrate on what I described in California: of making sure that anyone who buys a gun is a responsible citizen and not bent on crime.
Presdient Reagan's 1988 address to school children