(Alexandria, VA) – James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s (R-CA) press secretary who took a bullet for the nation’s Commander-in-Chief in 1981, died today at age 73.
Barely two months into his first term, Reagan was leaving the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981, when John Hinckley, Jr. shot in Reagan’s direction. Reagan was injured, as were four members of his entourage.
The hotel is now referred to as the Hinckley Hilton.
Shot in the head, Brady suffered extensive brain damage, nearly dying from the attack. Partially paralyzed, he went on to champion gun-control legislation for the rest of his life.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton (D-AR) signed the Brady Bill into law, which requires background checks for handguns bought from Federally licensed dealers.
The law does not require background checks for handguns bought at gun shows, out of the trunks of cars, on the Black Market, or from non-Federally licensed dealers.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) had plenty to say about Brady’s passing.
“The Brady Bill has been a complete failure, and an unnecessary infringement on the Second Amendment rights of all average, ordinary, everyday Americans,” said an NRA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “What have we seen since 1993? Columbine . Virginia Tech . Sandy Hook .
“Mr. Brady may have had his heart in the right place, but trampling on our rights isn’t the way to get things done. Now that he’s gone, we can go to work on repealing all the evil the Brady Bill has done. And if Republicans take the Senate in November, we’ll be one step closer to making it a reality.”
After the shooting, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity at his 1982 trial. His motive for the shooting: impressing actress Jodie Foster. Committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, his Foster obsession lasted at least until 2000. During this time, he also reached out to other famous criminals, such as Charles Manson.
In 2005, the courts began allowing Hinckley supervised visits away from St. Elizabeth’s. His off-site visits have gradually increased in duration over time.
However, upon hearing the news of Brady’s death, Hinckley’s concern apparently did not lie with the man for whom he caused 33 years of unnecessary misery and suffering.
“He wanted to know if Jodie had tried to reach him about [Brady’s] death,” said a St. Elizabeth’s spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.