So, Eleanor Roosevelt had a gun permit.
We don’t mean a country club shooter’s card (though we’re not ruling it out at this point); we mean an honest-to-goodness concealed carry permit.
Slate‘s history blog The Vault uncovered the permit at the FDR Library, one exhibit of which holds the content of Eleanor Roosevelt’s wallet. It’s mostly pieces of paper: A Met membership card, a poem about good cooking, etc, but the conceal carry permit is “perhaps the most surprising.”
They write that Eleanor was a “peripatetic traveler,” and that she often traveled large distances for the projects she pursued during and after FDR’s presidency. The reason Eleanor Roosevelt’s gun permit exists? Because she wanted to drive her own car.
While the Secret Service advised her to take an agent along with her, the 72-year-old refused (probably because they’d slow her down), so she elected to carry a pistol as a safety compromise.
During the 30s and 40s, women carrying firearms for self-defense wasn’t exactly a hot-button political issue, and Slate‘s Rebecca Onion notes that Eleanor’s situation as a “stubbornly independent First Lady” was an unusual one.
Still, Eleanor was a woman who fascinated the press during and after FDR’s presidency, and remarked at the time that she was a “fairly good shot,” dissuading any would-be attackers from approaching her as she traveled the country.
So what kind of pistol did Eleanor favor? It doesn’t say on the permit, and several friends of the First Lady interviewed claimed that she merely carried the permit: Not the pistol.
Which leads us to believe that that Eleanor Roosevelt’s gun permit was a formality and that, should she run into trouble on the road, she was prepared to confront her would-be antagonists with emasculating grit and a round of fisticuffs.