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James Brady Leaves Legacy on Gun Control

PHOTO: James Brady became a leading figure in efforts to reduce gun violence after he was shot in the head in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan. Photo credit: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
PHOTO: James Brady became a leading figure in efforts to reduce gun violence after he was shot in the head in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan. Photo credit: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
August 6, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who died this week at age 73, is being remembered for the work he did on behalf of gun control.

Brady's passing came more than three decades after he was critically wounded in the assassination attempt on President Reagan.

Joan Peterson, who sits on the board of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says she had a chance to meet him about four years ago in Washington.

"His speech was a little difficult to understand, but he was telling jokes with everybody, he was laughing," she said. "He had just a very sharp wit, and he was just an engaging man, in spite of the fact that he must have been suffering terribly. So, I really value that time that I met with him."

The gunman in the assassination attempt, John Hinckley Jr., was said to be trying to impress actress Jodi Foster. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remains under institutionalized psychiatric care.

Despite permanent disabilities from the shooting, Peterson said Brady went on to become an inspiration for many in his ardent support of common-sense gun safety legislation.

"He went to Capitol Hill," she said. "He did a lot of lobbying with his wife, Sarah, and managed to get a bill passed that would require background checks on sales of guns through federally-licensed firearms dealers."

According to the Brady Campaign, it's estimated that because of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, some 2 million gun sales to criminals, domestic abusers and other dangerous people have been blocked and countless lives saved.

More information is online at bradycampaign.org and at govtrack.us.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA