John W. Hinckley

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John Warnock Hinckley, Jr. was the attempted assassin of President Ronald Reagan. Hinckely was mentally disturbed and he said he did the attempted assassination for the actress Jodie Foster who he appeared to be obsessed with.

On 30 March 1981, he fired six times at the President, who was leaving the Washington D.C. Hilton Hotel. Reagan suffered a serious chest wound. Also shot were Press Secretary James Brady, a police officer, and a Secret Service agent. All of them survived. After his recovery, Reagan's popularity increased.

Hinckley purchased the gun outside the District of Columbia, which has some of the most restrictive gun control ordinances in the nation, and prevents the lawful self-defense of its citizens as well as preventing civilians from even having non lethal defensive sprays in the District.

Hinckley was tried in 1982, and found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, but was released in 2016 to live with his very elderly widowed mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, much to many people's opposition, including many of Williamsburg's residents.[Citation Needed]

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and gun control activists used the incident to press for new federal legislation. The variance of state and local laws, and lack of information sharing that allowed a man with a history of mental illness to purchase a gun, became the pretext for regulating purchasers and sellers of guns, many who were also NRA members and enthusiastically supported President Reagan in 1980. Sarah and Jim Brady were invited to testify. President Reagan although almost assassinated never pushed for gun control and continued to support gun rights.

Timothy McCarty, the secret service agent shot by Hinkley, campaigned against the availability of cheap handguns available to criminals. President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill into law. The bill included a federal mandatory waiting period before purchasing a handgun.[1] [2]


  1. Text of the Brady Bill
  2. The Battle over the Brady Bill