James Brady dies at 73

Former White house press secretary James Brady lay face-down during the assassination attempt aftermath March 30, 1981.
Former White House Press Secretary James Brady lay face-down during the assassination attempt aftermath March 30, 1981.

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

James Brady, the former White House press secretary who survived a critical gunshot wound to the head during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has died.

Brady died Monday morning at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. He was 73.

“We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Jim ‘Bear’ Brady has passed away after a series of health issues,” his family said in a statement. “His wife, Sarah, son, Scott, and daughter, Missy, are so thankful to have had the opportunity to say their farewells.”

Brady was shot March 30, 1981, as John Hinckley Jr. opened fire on the president outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. Reagan, Police Officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy were also wounded.

Brady never regained his health, suffering partial paralysis and brain damage. He spent most of his later years in a wheelchair.

In years following the assassination attempt, Jim and Sarah Brady became strong supporters of gun control. The effort led to the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly called the Brady Law, in 1993. The law requires background checks on handgun purchases. The White House press briefing room also bears Brady’s name.

“I still remember vividly that day in March 1981, when Sarah  and I sat together in a tiny room near the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital, trying to comfort each other while we both were gripped with unspeakable fear,” former first lady Nancy Reagan told the Associated Press. “The bond we established then was unlike any other.”

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