Monday, August 4, 2014

Gun Control Advocate Hero & Victim James Brady Dies

James & Sarah Brady 2011  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    James Brady, former White House Press Secretary to Ronald Reagan, has died. Brady was shot in the head by John Hinckley Jr. as he tried to assassinate then president Ronald Reagan.  The assassination attempt took place March 30,1981.  Brady had been on the job just 69 days.    Brady survived, confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. He became an ardent gun control advocate, co-sponsoring, with wife Sarah Brady,  the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  Their push for national legislation eventually became known as the "Brady Bill".  He leaves a legacy of courage, perseverance and strength.   

I came across this anecdote today.

How James Brady Didn't Get Me Fired
AUG 4, 2014 4:37 PM EDT
In 1979, I wrote a critical front-page Wall Street Journal profile of leading Republican presidential contender John Connally. The tough-talking Texan demanded that his press secretary call the Journal's top brass and get me fired. Later that press secretary reported back: "They won't do it; those bastards always stick together." Connally just shook his head.
The press secretary was James Brady, who of course never actually called the Journal's executives. Rather, he mollified the candidate without causing further damage.
Jim, who died today at 73, left a mark on America; he was a man of indomitable courage in the face of awful adversity.
A couple years after the Connally incident, he was riding high as Ronald Reagan's press secretary when he was severely shot in the head during an attempted assassination of the new president. My wife, Judy Woodruff, then NBC's White House correspondent, was standing yards away; it was a gruesome scene. This was only 10 weeks into the Reagan administration and Brady -- who was smart, funny, knew the ways of Washington and was respected by the press -- could have been become a Reagan insider.
It wasn't to be.
Jim never really recovered from his near-fatal brain injury, was wheelchair-bound and faced numerous health setbacks over the next three decades. But he didn't disappear. He and his incredibly persistent and gutsy wife, Sarah, became the most visible champions of a sensible gun policy in America. In 1993, the so-called Brady Law was signed by President Bill Clinton; it requires a background check before purchasing most firearms.
The law was diluted by the courts and politicians, and had too many loopholes. Still, millions of gun purchases have been blocked and probably many lives saved.
The Bradys became an inspiring presence at major events in Washington and in the corridors of Congress, sometimes at the White House. Jim lost a lot, never his spirit or humor.
A few weeks before the shooting in 1981, Jim and Sarah took my wife and me to dinner. Near the end of a delightful evening, I asked him a needling question about the White House. His instant retort: "I should have gotten you fired."
To contact the writer of this article: Al Hunt at



DJan said...

Wonderful piece to remember a very courageous man. I didn't know he died, after such a long period of suffering through. Thank you for reminding me.

California Girl said...

DJan, I don't want to sound trite but he definitely turned lemons into lemonade w/ respect to gun control. Too bad Congress let the ban on assault weapons, part of the Brady Bill, lapse 10 years later.

injaynesworld said...

We lost a good one.

The Silver Fox said...

Sorry to see this. I hadn't heard.

bill lisleman said...

I do wish the gun control would work better. I'm not anti gun or pro gun. I am anti violence and imagine most people avoid violence. In my life time I've seen the smoking culture change for health reasons. I hope the gun culture can change for health reasons too.


by Cole Scott