This day in history – 1981 – President Reagan is shot The assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan

On this day in 1981, Ronald Reagan is shot by a would-be assassin. The President was then leaving an event at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, Reagan’s Secret Service detail moved fast! One agent, Jerry Parr, pushed Reagan down and into a limousine. In the meantime, another agent, Tim McCarthy, threw himself in front of Reagan, in a spread-eagle position. He was trying to turn himself into the biggest possible target, hoping that the President wouldn’t be hit.

Given the chaotic scene, the agents couldn’t prevent Reagan from being shot that day, but they likely did save him from taking a bullet to the head.

Unfortunately, the incident wasn’t without other casualties. D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty and White House Press Secretary James Brady both took bullets. Brady suffered the most serious injury of the four men: He was shot in the head and would be permanently paralyzed.

Reagan later described his own experience of the day:

“I was almost to the car when I heard what sounded like two or three firecrackers over to my left—just a small fluttering sound, pop, pop pop.” He was thrown into the limo and “landed on my face atop the arm rest across the backseat . . . Jerry jumped on top of me.” Reagan was in excruciating pain and thought Parr had broken one of his ribs.

It was more than just a broken rib, of course. Reagan had been shot under his left arm, but the bullet had ricocheted off a rib and into a lung. It had settled less than an inch from his heart.

The shooter, John Hinckley, was found not guilty by the jury, by reason of insanity. He was confined to the federal psychiatric hospital, St. Elizabeth’s in Washington D.C. Hinckley’s decided to shoot the President in order to gain the attention of Jodie Foster, the actress, with whom he had an obsession. His previous attempts to gain her attention, including stalking, had failed, so he thought that by assassinating the President she would finally notice him.

After 35 years confinement in a psychiatric hospital, he was released with stipulations on July 27, 2016. Age 62 years, he is no longer considered a threat, and lives with his mother in Virginia. Asked what he thinks about it, Officer Delahanty said, “That’s their decision, I guess. I’m probably not too enthused with it, but what can you do?”

This entry was posted in Crime, Government, History, The Culture, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to This day in history – 1981 – President Reagan is shot

  1. Gil says:

    POTUS Reagan’s suit is at the Reagan Museum. There is a whole display area. The suit has his blood on it. It brings you back to earth really quick when you can see it up close. If anyone is in CA, I highly recommend a visit.


  2. Sharon says:

    It is impossible for me comprehend why John Hinckley is free. Followed all the developments of his release and understand the legal logic, but him being free after nearly killing our President is not something I care to understand.

    I would love to see the Reagan library butI would never want to see Mr. Reagan’s suit with his blood on it. Never.

    Having “seen” the events as they happened is enough visual to last me a lifetime. No thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Lucille says:

    IMO, “Not guilty by reason of insanity” is INSANE. If a person is insane enough to try to murder a nation’s leader just to gain an actress’s attention, then he should be confined in an insane asylum for the rest of his natural life.

    Re Hinckley, what’s going to happen to him when his mother dies? He gets to live on his own with his insanity? Another case of a child being mentally ill long before he commits a crime and everyone afraid to confine him to an institution.

    From his Wiki bio: “The verdict resulted in widespread dismay. As a consequence, the United States Congress and a number of states revised laws governing when the insanity defense may be used by the defendant in a criminal prosecution. Idaho, Montana, and Utah abolished the defense altogether.[15] In the United States, prior to the Hinckley case, the insanity defense had been used in less than 2% of all felony cases and was unsuccessful in almost 75% of those trials.[12] Public outcry over the verdict led to the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, which altered the rules for consideration of mental illness of defendants in federal criminal court proceedings in the United States.[2] In 1985, Hinckley’s parents wrote Breaking Points, a book detailing their son’s mental condition.[12]

    “The pivotal conditions of his release are that he has no contact with the Reagan family, the Brady family, or Jodie Foster or Foster’s family or agent. He will live with his 90-year-old mother and be restricted to a 50 mi (80 km) zone around her home in Williamsburg, Virginia.[31][32][33][34] Hinckley was released from institutional psychiatric care on September 10, 2016, and will live full-time at his mother’s home.[1] As part of his release, he is excluded from using alcohol, possessing any firearms, ammunition and other weaponry, from reading any printed or online pornography, listening to violent music, speaking to the press, has to work at least three days a week, can drive no more than 30 mi (48 km) from his mother’s home or 50 mi (80 km) if attended, and must see a psychiatrist twice a month. His Internet use is subject to limitations and scrutiny, and he is not allowed to erase his computer’s web browser history.[35][36]”


    Liked by 1 person

    • lovely says:


      The short answer is nobody. Regardless of what anyone says.

      Once his 90 year old mother dies he is likely to go off his meds, (if not before). The claim is after 35 years Hinckley has been medicated/”therapized” into an extended period of sanity.

      “Well enough” to be released into society with unenforceable caveats.

      As Stella’s post indicates laws were changed because of Hinkley. GBMI is an active verdict in about 20 states.

      Guilty but Mentally Ill (GBMI) vs. Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: An Annotated Bibliography

      Andrea Yates was found Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity. Technically she could be released just as Hinckley was. She will never live outside an institution, nor does she likely want to be medicated to sanity.

      I agree with the Godfather of modern criminal profiling, John Douglas, many criminals, especially those who commit the most heinous crimes qualify as mentally ill, very few, a minuscule amount, qualify as legally insane. Even at the time that they are committing their crimes.

      Douglas writes about a serial killer who was very disturbed, did monstrous things to his victims, in my opinion Douglas argues effectively that the truly insane would be unable to wait for a defenseless woman to be alone, the truly insane, those in a psychotic break, have no impulse control. Hinckley had delusional thinking. That doesn’t mean he was compelled by forces greater than himself to assassinate President Reagan and I don’t think that Hinkley should be a free man in society.

      All that said if Andrea Yates had been married to a compassionate well reasoned man it is more likely than not that her children would not have met their horrific fate. Whenever the subject of insanity comes up I think of her and I say a prayer.

      I hope Andrea Yates husband Rusty sees those little faces and what he allowed to happen to them in the light of day.


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