Here’s not something you see every day: a President aiming a rifle on Air Force One.
And yet, that’s exactly what this is. On a trip to California in November 1983, President Ronald Reagan was photographed aiming a bolt-action rifle out one of the windows aboard Air Force One. Staffers watch on and smile – even as one moves out of his line of fire. Reagan was left-handed, but he adapted well to shooting with right-handed arms because left-handed ones were (and often still are) harder to come by.
After an attempted assassination in 1981, there’s been some debate about Reagan carrying a .38-caliber revolver in his briefcase, often taking it with him on Air Force One and elsewhere. The story originated with Jim Kuhn, one of his longtime executive aides. However, other sources close to the President report never having seen it. You can be the judge on that one.
Anyway, back to the rifle: I haven’t been able to find out why he had the gun on the plane. If anyone knows, please chime in!