Reagan spokesman, anti-gun activist James Brady dies at 73
By Robert Macpherson, AFP
August 6, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
WASHINGTON--Former White House spokesman James Brady, who became a tireless gun control advocate after being severely wounded during a 1981 assassination attempt against his then-boss Ronald Reagan, has died at the age of 73.
In a statement to U.S. news media Monday that specified no date or place of death, Brady's family said he passed away "after a series of health issues."
"We are enormously proud of Jim's remarkable accomplishments — before he was shot on that fateful day in 1981 while serving at the side of President Ronald Reagan and in the days, months and years that followed," they said.
Brady was among four people shot and wounded — including Reagan — when John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill the newly inaugurated president on a rainy day outside the Washington Hilton hotel on March 30, 1981.
A serious head wound left him with partial paralysis and slurred speech. Unable to return to work, the Illinois native nevertheless retained the title of White House press secretary throughout the Reagan administration.
Sought Tougher Gun Laws
With his wife Sarah, Brady took a front-and-center role in efforts to enact tougher handgun laws in the United States, notably through an advocacy group that came to be known as the Brady Campaign.
Success came in November 1993 when President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, which required background checks for anyone buying firearms from a licensed retailer in the United States.
He remain committed to gun control throughout his life, saying in 2011: "I wouldn't be here in this damn wheelchair if we had common-sense legislation."
"Since 1993, the law that bears Jim's name has kept guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals," said President Barack Obama, whose own push for wider background checks after the Newtown school massacre in December 2012 collapsed on Capitol Hill.
"An untold number of people are alive today who otherwise wouldn't be, thanks to Jim," he said in a statement.
"Jim was the personification of courage and perseverance," added Reagan's widow Nancy Reagan in a statement.