Thursday, March 5, 2015
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

 
Show resilience in the face of adversity

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Students sample industry choices during school career fair

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Real McCoy II Ferry set for maintenance

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police slate annual awards ceremony

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

Limited damage to apartment from carport fire

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Pet remembrance event set in Vallejo

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Friday concert benefits Families Helping Families

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Vallejo police arrest 4 in connection with 3 killings

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
National Red Cross Month celebrates heroes

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Il Fiorello schedules citrus class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Jury convicts ex-con who served as own lawyer

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4

Red Carpet Gala to benefit theater foundation

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Suisun City police log: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Fairfield police log: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

 
Justices sharply divided over health care law subsidies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California lawmaker pushes child care worker vaccinations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Children in Southern California breathing easier, study says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Failures by 3 governments preceded homeless man’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment | Gallery

Second Los Angeles hospital reports ‘superbug’ infections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
How much sugar is in that? 7 foods with added sugar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Obama signs Homeland Security funding bill into law

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

 
House panel issues subpoena for Clinton’s personal emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
A defiant Alabama regains ground against gay marriage

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Microsoft co-founder says he found sunken Japan WWII warship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Coal mine blast kills at least 24 in war-torn east Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

.

Living

Today in History: March 5, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 5, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 5, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
I can’t tell if I still want to be married, or just don’t want to be alone

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

DiCaprio partners with Netflix for series of documentaries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ tops MTV Movie Awards nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Glen Campbell children fighting wife’s control of affairs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
.

Sports

 
Posey has 2-run double in Giants’ 9-2 loss to A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Local report: Vanden softball slips by Rodriguez with late run

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Curry shoots Warriors to 102-93 victory over Bucks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Alex Johnson, AL batting champ in 1970, dies at age 72

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Goodell: NFL responsible for Super Bowl seating problems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former player Nate Jackson calls for NFL to allow marijuana

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Phoenix to install tire barriers before NASCAR visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Pirelli sticks with same tire choices for first 4 F1 races

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP Source: Peyton Manning returning for 18th NFL season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NCAA reports big jump in home runs with new flat-seam ball

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLS, players agree in principle to 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prosecutors can’t bring up Florida shooting in ex-NFLer case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Vikings agree to trade Cassel to Bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Scott opens a season of change at Doral

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘It WAS him': Defense admits Tsarnaev bombed Boston Marathon

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
With Peterson’s status in question, Vikings pay a visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL stadium supporters in LA suburb file ballot paperwork

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Cesar Luis Garcia-Regalado

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Rodolfo Landabora Porquez

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Aaron D. Malave

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

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

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9