"Before Reagan left office in January 1989, efforts were afoot in Congress to pass legislation creating a national background check and mandatory waiting period for handgun purchases. The Brady Bill, as the legislation was named, had the backing of Sarah Brady, the wife of former Reagan press secretary Jim Brady, who was wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on the president.
The Brady Bill initially struggled for support in Congress, but was gaining ground by the latter days of Reagans predecessor, President George H.W. Bush. In a 1991 op-ed for the New York Times, Reagan voiced his support for the Brady Bill, saying the 1981 assassination attempt might have never happened if the Brady Bill had been law
Citing statistics suggesting 9,200 murders are committed each year in the United States using handguns, Reagan said, This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them.
It was a 180 degree turn from Reagans 1975 piece in Guns & Ammo magazine, when he said that gun control is pointless because murder cannot be prevented.
Three years later, Congress had passed the Brady Bill and was working on another piece of gun control legislation, a ban on assault weapons. Reagan
joined former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in a letter published in the Boston Globe that called on Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons. Later, in a letter to Rep. Scott Klug, a Wisconsin Republican, Reagan said the limitations proposed by the Assault Weapon Ban are absolutely necessary
and that it must be passed. Klug voted in favor of the ban."
Regarding the underlined... I believe that is what pushed him to do the 180. However, I would like to point out he says "might
have never happened", which to me says that he had doubts.
President Reagan wasn't a mixed bag, "FORMER
President" Reagan was.