Thursday, December 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Jim Brady dies: Reagan aide, gun control advocate

James Brady, Sarah Brady

This March 30, 2011, file photo shows former White House press secretary James Brady, left, who was left paralyzed in the Reagan assassination attempt, looking at his wife Sarah Brady, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington marking the 30th anniversary of the shooting. A Brady family spokeswoman says Brady has died at 73. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By
August 06, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — A major trait that endeared Jim Brady to the Washington press corps was his sense of humor, especially when he made fun of his own boss.

When Ronald Reagan was campaigning for president in 1980, Reagan drew scorn from environmentalists for saying that trees were a greater source of pollution than cars. Aboard the campaign plane, Brady pointed at a forest fire in the distance and yelled, “Killer trees! Killer trees!” to the great amusement of reporters.

After the election, Reagan’s advisers appeared hesitant to appoint Brady press secretary. Nancy Reagan was said to feel the job required someone younger and better-looking than the 40-year-old, moon-faced, balding Brady.

“I come before you today not as just another pretty face but out of sheer talent,” Brady told reporters. A week later, he got the job.

Brady, who died Monday at 73, would need humor and much more after March 30, 1981. On that day John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel just two months into the new president’s term. Reagan nearly died from a chest wound. Three others, including Brady, were struck by bullets from Hinckley’s handgun.

Shot in the head, Brady lived through hours of delicate surgery and then many more operations over the years. But he never recovered the normal use of his limbs and was often in a wheelchair. Besides partial paralysis from brain damage, he suffered short-term memory impairment, slurred speech and constant pain.

Still, along with his wife, Sarah, he went on to become the face and as much as possible the voice of the gun-control movement in the United States. A federal law requiring background checks for handgun buyers bears his name, as does the White House press briefing room.

Mrs. Reagan, the former first lady, said Monday she was “deeply saddened to learn of Jim Brady’s passing today. Thinking of him brings back so many memories – happy and sad – of a time in all of our lives when we learned what it means to ‘play the hand we’re dealt.'”

The lasting public image of Brady came from the worst day of his life. A news clip of the 1981 shooting, replayed often on television and in documentaries, showed him sprawled on the sidewalk after several Secret Service agents had hustled the wounded president into his limousine and others had pounced on Hinckley.

Although Brady returned to the White House only briefly, a year after the shooting, he was allowed to keep the title of presidential press secretary – and the $89,500 annual salary as assistant to the president for press relations – until Reagan left office.

The TV replays did take a toll on Brady. He told The Associated Press years later that he relived the moment each time.

“I want to take every bit of (that) film . . . and put them in a cement incinerator, slosh them with gasoline and throw a lighted cigarette in,” he said.

Officials at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, where Hinckley is a patient, have said that the mental illness that led him to shoot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster has been in remission for decades. Hinckley has been allowed to leave the hospital to visit his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Brady was a strong Republican from an early age. As a boy of 12 in Centralia, Ill., where he was born on Aug. 29, 1940, he distributed election literature for Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In a long string of political jobs, Brady worked for Sen. Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois, Sen. William V. Roth Jr. of Delaware and John Connally, the former Texas governor who ran for president in 1979. When Connally dropped out, Brady joined Reagan’s campaign as director of public affairs and research.

Previously, he had worked in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford: as special assistant to the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, as special assistant to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and as an assistant to the defense secretary.

He was divorced from the former Sue Beh when, in 1973, he courted Sarah Jane Kemp, the daughter of an FBI agent who was working with him in a congressional office.

Sarah Brady became involved in gun-control efforts in 1985, and later chaired Handgun Control Inc., but Brady took a few more years to join her, and Reagan did not endorse their efforts until 10 years after he was shot. Reagan’s surprise endorsement – he was a longtime National Rifle Association member and an opponent of gun control laws – helped turn the tide in Congress.

“They’re not going to accuse him of being some bed-wetting liberal, no way can they do that,” said Brady, who had become an active lobbyist for the bill.

The Brady law required a five-day wait and background check before a handgun can be sold. In November 1993, as President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, Brady said: “Every once in a while, you need to wake up and smell the propane. I needed to be hit in the head before I started hitting the bricks.”

At the time of the 30th anniversary of the shooting, the Bradys told NPR they were no longer Republicans. “Times change,” Sarah Brady said.

President Barack Obama described Brady as a White House legend, who turned “the events of that terrible afternoon into a remarkable legacy of service.” Thanks to Brady and the law bearing his name, “an untold number of people are alive today who otherwise wouldn’t be,” the president said in a statement.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement that because of Brady’s work on gun control “there are few Americans in history who are as directly responsible for saving as many lives as Jim.” In its own statement, the National Rifle Association said it extended “heartfelt condolences” to Brady’s family.

Clinton awarded Brady the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. In 2000, the press briefing room at the White House was renamed in his honor. The following year, Handgun Control Inc., was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Clinton said Monday that Brady “transformed his own personal tragedy into an opportunity to inspire change – for more than three decades he and Sarah encouraged all of us to create a more just and secure nation, free from handgun violence.”

The men and women who also stood at the podium facing the press corps described Brady as a “friend and mentor,” a “selfless public servant,” and a man who did his job with the “highest integrity.”

“Jim Brady defined the role of the modern White House press secretary,” said current White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and former press secretaries Jay Carney, Robert Gibbs, Dana Perino, Scott McClellan, Ari Fleischer, Jake Siewert, Joe Lockhart, Mike McCurry, Dee Dee Myers, Marlin Fitzwater, and Ron Nessen.

Brady also served as vice chair of the National Organization on Disability and co-chair of the National Head Injury Foundation.

Brady died at a retirement community in Alexandria, Virginia. Survivors include his wife; a son, Scott, and a daughter, Melissa.

“We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Jim “Bear” Brady has passed away after a series of health issues,” Brady’s family said in a statement. It said they were “so thankful to have had the opportunity to say their farewells.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Solano College trustees move back ‘home’

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Needs of small dog give Solano man life’s mission

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
Christmas comes early for prenatal program participants

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Jury convicts teen for role in 2012 DeBartolo’s heist

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Police chief: Suisun crime up 3 percent in 2014

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Council OKs $65,730 pact to advocate for Travis base

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield pays $42,500 to settle soil suit

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Fairfield police log: Dec. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Dec. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Fears fanned by hackers bring down Sony film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Like Iran, secret diplomacy leads to US-Cuba thaw

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

Freed American endured years of declining health

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Bay Bridge light sculpture to keep on shining

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

Study: Huge wildfire supports need for controlled burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
A fresh setback for efforts to cure HIV infection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Nigerian court sentences 54 soldiers to death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Colombian rebels announce unilateral cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Russians flock to stores to pre-empt price rises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Pakistan buries victims of school massacre

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

.

Opinion

 
Crime Witness Protocol 101

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 8 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons: Dec. 18, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My siblings don’t want to replace abusive mother’s pacemaker

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

25 movies chosen for the National Film Registry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Saving Private Ryan’ among films being preserved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

For MLB, changes in Cuba will take time to sort out

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Falcons cruise by crushers in girls basketball

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

49ers release McDonald amid further legal trouble

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Carr faces another tough test in rookie season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Painkillers lawsuit against NFL dismissed; may be appealed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Garcia resigns as FIFA prosecutor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Chattanooga women stun No. 7 Stanford 54-46

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Track coach Drummond gets 8-year doping suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Warriors’ Bogut out with knee injury vs. Thunder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP source: Romo close to $15M, 2-year deal with Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Baseball monitoring White House Cuba decision

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
APNewsBreak: Judge rejects NCAA concussions deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

Health care exchange sign-ups exceeding last year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Fed to be ‘patient’ about a rate hike; stocks soar

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

McDonald’s in Japan limits orders of fries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Amid scrutiny, Uber says it will focus more on safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jennie Ponce Reyes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Marian L. “Chicki” Downs

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9