Today, March 30, thirty years ago, after only ten weeks in office, President Ronald Reagan was subjected to an assassination attempt by John Hinckley.
Reagan was seriously wounded, and without the wonders of modern medicine, would have died after what would have been the second shortest term of a President in American history, only surpassed by William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia from cold weather conditions on Inauguration Day, exactly one month after he became President in 1841.
Reagan is also the only President ever shot who would recover from his wounds, although former President Theodore Roosevelt, shot while campaigning for election as a Progressive in 1912 after his time in office, also recovered from his wounds.
Reagan’s shooting demonstrated the chaos and anarchy that can happen for a period of time after such a tragic event, with no one really sure who was in charge in the moments after the assassination, due to Vice President George H W Bush traveling overseas at the time, and Secretary of State Alexander Haig claiming he was in charge, when actually Speaker of the House Thomas (Tip) O’Neill technically was next in line, but Bush able to act from afar, not having to be present in the nation to be in charge.
Press Secretary James Brady suffered much greater wounds than Reagan, who fully recovered, although some wonder if he suffered mental damage that led to his later Alzheimers diagnosis after leaving the Presidency. But Brady suffered major brain damage, was paralyzed and forced to spend his life in a wheelchair, and even today, speaks in a distorted manner. But his wife, Sarah, is a true example of a loyal wife, who has stuck through thick and thin with her husband, an example of true love!
The Brady Bill for gun control finally resulted in the Clinton Administration, but was not renewed ten years later during the Bush Administration, and we have seen the dangers of lack of gun control, with the recent attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona in January.
We need President Obama to speak up on this issue in a much more forceful manner, and of course, we know that the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party will fight any attempt at gun control, but this is a moral cause, and the memory today of how we almost lost our 40th President thirty years ago today should sustain us in this fight!