'All in the Family' episode reflects today's pro-gun argument—40 years ago

Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor)Following the National Rifle Association's controversial press conference today, legendary television producer Norman Lear forwarded along a clip from his classic sitcom All in the Family that depicted a pro-gun argument similar to the one issued by NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.

In the 1972 episode entitled "Archie and the Editorial," loudmouth conservative Archie Bunker—played by Carroll O'Connor in one of the all-time great television roles—becomes irate after a TV news editorial about gun control and eventually films a rebuttal rallying against it. While son-in-law Mike (Rob Reiner) watches in disbelief, Archie posits that gun control laws are part of a Communist conspiracy and suggests that airlines solve plane hijackings by supplying the passengers with pistols. "All you gotta do is arm all your passengers," he explains. "They just pass out the pistols at the beginning of the trip, and then pick them up again at the end. Case closed." The absurdity of the concept draws uproarious laughter from the studio audience, but later in the episode, Archie gets his comeuppance when he is robbed at gunpoint by a man who recognizes him from his TV appearance. After arriving home, Archie argues that he could have defended himself if he had a gun, but wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) and daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) point out that the other guy could have shot him and then they would both be dead.

Available below, the clip was forwarded to The Hollywood Reporter from Norman Lear, the iconic producer behind socially progressive comedies such as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Maude. The full episode can be viewed on YouTube.

While many of the social battles being waged now are similar to the debates that Archie and Meathead had on All in the Family, it's still ironic to hear the same rhetoric being spewed in 2012 as in 1972. During the episode, the station manager even refers to Archie as an "extinct" species, but the same arguments are still being trotted out today.

How do you feel about this divisive issue?


Message Posted On Dec 24th, 2012, 9:37 am
Calling me a twat? How mature of you. I'm freely willing to admit that I got it wrong regarding the guns being registered to Lanza's mother, but that doesn't change the main point. Lanza lived in the home with these legally obtained guns. He was taught how to use them by their legally registered owner. He had direct access to them. If that giant arsenal of multiple guns wouldn't have been in his mother's (legal) possession, he would have had no murder weapons available. That is unless he would have went into a gun store and bought one. The man had no criminal record, nor readily available history of mental illness. He would have passed the background check. Or he could just have gone to a gun show and got one there without a check taking place at all. You may believe me a "twat" all you like, but that doesn't change the fact that guns serve only one purpose: to kill things. And in this country, it remains incredibly easy to buy them, whether they be assault weapons, large ammo drums, or anything else you'd like. And I'd really like to know the source for those stats you throw out at the bottom. I don't buy their validity.

Message Posted On Dec 24th, 2012, 4:48 am
@Really? Hey TWAT, stop spreading false information and get your facts right! All of the guns Adam Lanza used in the shootings belonged to, and was licensed to, his mother. And neither was he a holder of a concealed carry or open carry permit. Also, yearly gun deaths in the US from licensed firearms only account for less than 10 percent while the other 90+ percent are attributed to unlicensed/illegal firearms. The problem is that the dozen or so people who are killed every week by unlicensed firearms barely make it to the headlines, most of the times not making the news at all.

Message Posted On Dec 22nd, 2012, 2:42 am
Ah, the "criminals and crazies won't obey the law anyway" argument. Sure never get tired of that old chestnut. It might carry more weight, if not for the fact that the vast majority of mass shootings in America are committed with LEGALLY purchased weapons. All the guns Adam Lanza used to kill those kids were ones he was licensed to own and carry. So, if nothing else, stricter gun laws would have at least made him jump through more checks and hoops to get armed, likely eating away at his resolve to kill. In today's culture, if you don't have a criminal record, the law basically amounts to "fill out this form, here's a gun".

Message Posted On Dec 22nd, 2012, 2:26 am
Yeah, that's what we need, another gun regulation/law. Because God knows the criminal and mental cases out there sure obey all the ones we have on the books now, right???
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