After his son-in-law started promoting gun control, Archie Bunker explained why it will never work in America. In fact, Archie’s reasoning proved prophetic when it comes to 9/11.
Although All In The Family debuted in 1971, many of the themes are still relevant today. Carroll O’Connor played the character of Archie Bunker, a blue-collar American who grew up during the Great Depression. Archie gave a voice to many Americans who were frustrated with the times. One subject the show addressed that is still hotly debated today is gun control.
In a 1972 episode titled “Archie and the Editorial,” the All In The Family patriarch knew what he had to do when he saw a television editorial on gun control. After debating with his son-in-law, who Archie frequently referred to as “Meathead,” the hard-working American character contacted the station and asked to give a rebuttal. The result was must-see TV that is still funny and relative decades later.
Archie had very traditional values while his son-in-law Michael, better known as “Meathead,” was an educated liberal who lived with Archie and Edith because he couldn’t make it on his own. The gun control episode highlighted the difference between Meathead and Archie. Meathead doesn’t believe in the Second Amendment while Archie thinks crime would go down if everyone had a gun.
While watching the news, Archie lost his cool and turned off the TV when gun control came up. He wasn’t having any of it, and Archie and Meathead got into it. Archie’s news debut came a few days later. He slicked his hair down to look more professional, but that wasn’t the best part. Archie suggested that hijackings could be stopped if everyone on board a plane carried a gun. If everyone is packing heat, a terrorist would be hard-pressed to hijack the plane.
Although Archie got laughs when he suggested in 1972 that passengers on planes should “all pack heat,” it was 29 years later that some form of that suggestion actually happened after 9/11. According to Business Insider, the U.S. had just 33 air marshals working in a full-time capacity on 9/11, and in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, that number soared to over 600. By 2005, the number of air marshals was in the thousands with a concentration on domestic flights.
What turned out to be comedic in 1972 became not so funny in 2001. Originally, the show was supposed to make Archie sound like a fool and Meathead Mike was to be the voice of reason. It also showed the dynamics of a family that didn’t always agree, but they always seemed to find a way to get along.
“What was the first thing the Communists done when they took over Russia? Answer: Gun control,” Archie also explained in his editorial. While this remark caused Meathead to roll his eyes, Archie was spot on about the Soviet Union’s actions when they seized power. On December 10, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissar mandated that Soviet citizens turn in their firearms. Failure to do so led to swift criminal prosecution.
Possibly, the Founding Fathers who wrote the Second Amendment foresaw what tyrannical regimes would do to take power. Meathead would probably roll his eyes over saying his father-in-law’s thoughts on gun control were in line with great scholars like our Founding Fathers, but that’s what made All In The Family so great. Archie and Meathead’s rivalry always ended with them putting their political differences aside for the sake of family. The overall message is something all Americans can relate to. We may have clashing opinions — but what is much more important in the end is what unites us.