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Reagan assassination attempt

Reagan assassination attempt
The Reagan assassination attempt occurred on March 30, 1981, just 69 days into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. While leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr.. Reagan suffered a punctured lung, but prompt medical attention allowed him to recover quickly despite his age. Reagan was the first serving United States president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. No formal invocation of presidential succession took place, although a controversial statement by Secretary of State Alexander Haig that he was "in control here" marked a short period during which Vice President George H. W. Bush was physically absent, flying back to Washington, D.C. aboard Air Force Two from a speech in Fort Worth, Texas. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained confined to a psychiatric facility. Taxi Driver.[5] He wrote three or four more notes to her in early March 1981. Foster gave these notes to her dean, who gave them to the Yale police department, which sought to track Hinckley down but failed.[6][7]

Ambush outside hotel
Speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel
Hinckley arrived in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, March 29, getting off a Greyhound Lines bus[8] and checking into the Park Central Hotel.[3] He had breakfast at McDonald’s the next morning, noticed U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s schedule on page A4 of the Washington Star, and decided it was time to make his move.[9] Knowing that he might not live to tell about shooting Reagan, Hinckley wrote (but did not mail) a letter to Foster about two hours prior to the assassination attempt, saying that he hoped to impress her with the magnitude of his action.[10] On March 30, 1981, Reagan delivered a luncheon address to AFL-CIO representatives at the Washington Hilton Hotel. He entered the building around 13:45, waving to a crowd which included news media, citizens, and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

The motivation behind Hinckley’s attack was an obsession with actress Jodie Foster. While living in Hollywood in the late 1970s, he saw the film Taxi Driver at least 15 times, apparently identifying strongly with Travis Bickle, the lead character.[1][2] The arc of the story involves Bickle’s attempts to protect a 12-year-old prostitute, played by Foster; toward the end of the film, Bickle attempts to assassinate a United States Senator who is running for president. Over the following years, Hinckley trailed Foster around the country, going so far as to enroll in a writing course at Yale University in 1980 when he learned that she was a student there after reading an article in People magazine.[3] He wrote numerous letters and notes to her in late 1980.[4] He called her twice and refused to give up when she indicated that she was not interested in him.[2] Convinced that by becoming a national figure he would be Foster’s equal, Hinckley began to stalk thenPresident Jimmy Carter — his decision to target presidents was also likely inspired by

The shooting
Shortly before 14:30 EST, as Reagan walked out of the hotel’s T Street NW exit toward his waiting car, Hinckley emerged from the crowd of admirers and fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 cal. blue steel revolver six times in three seconds.[11] The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head.[12] The second hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back.[13][12][14] The third overshot the president and hit the window of a building across the street. The fourth hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen.[13][12] The fifth hit the bullet-proof glass of the window on the open side door of the president’s limousine. The sixth and final


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Reagan assassination attempt

bullet ricocheted off the side of the limousine and hit the president in his left armpit, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly an inch from his heart.[9] Sixteen minutes after the assassination attempt, the ATF found that the gun had been purchased at Rocky’s Pawn Shop in Dallas, Texas.[15] It had been loaded with six "Devastator"-brand .22LR cartridges, which contained small lead azide explosive charges. The rounds were not manufactured in the U.S.; any bullet which contained actual explosives would have been classified as an illegal explosive device under U.S. federal law at the time that Hinckley purchased them. All six bullets failed to explode. The entire incident was captured on video by at least five cameramen, including all of the major broadcast networks. The new Cable News Network had been broadcasting Reagan’s speech live moments earlier, and its crew was still inside the hotel. Hinckley asked the arresting officers whether that night’s Academy Awards ceremony would be postponed due to the shooting, and indeed it was — it aired the next evening.[5]

Reagan taken to George Washington University Hospital
Moments after the shooting, Reagan was whisked away by the Secret Service agents in the presidential limousine. At first, there was no realization that the President had been wounded; the bullet which struck him entered under his armpit. However, when Secret Service agent Jerry Parr checked him for gunshot wounds, Reagan coughed up bright, frothy blood, indicating that his lung was punctured. Reagan, already in great pain, believed that one of his ribs had cracked when agent Parr pushed him into the limousine. Parr ordered the motorcade to divert to nearby George Washington University Hospital.[16] Although the emergency room staff had been notified that gunshot victims were incoming, no stretcher was ready. Reagan exited the limousine and was assisted into the emergency room. Complaining of difficulty breathing, Reagan’s knees buckled, and he went down on one knee.[16] The trauma team, led by Dr. Joseph Giordano, treated Reagan with intravenous fluids, oxygen, tetanus toxoid, and chest tubes.[16]


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Reagan assassination attempt
hours a day in the White House. He did not lead a Cabinet meeting until day 26, did not venture outside Washington until day 49, and did not hold a press conference until day 79. Reagan’s physician thought recovery was not complete until October.[16] Reagan had been scheduled to visit Philadelphia on the day of the shooting. While intubated, he scribbled to a nurse, "All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia", a reference to the W.C. Fields tagline.[16][17]

Alexander Haig "in control"
Members of the Cabinet, including Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and National Security Advisor Richard Allen, met in the White House Situation Room to discuss various issues, including the availability of a Nuclear Football (which was still in the possession of the Army officer "carrier" with the president for much of the day), the apparent presence of more than the usual number of Soviet submarines off the Atlantic coast, and the presidential line of succession. These meetings were recorded with the participants’ knowledge by Allen, and the tapes have since been made public.[18] Upon learning that Reagan was in surgery, Haig declared, "the helm is right here. And that means right in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here."[19]

President Reagan with Mrs. Reagan inside George Washington University Hospital four days after the shooting When First Lady Nancy Reagan arrived in the emergency room after being informed, he remarked to her, "Honey, I forgot to duck." (borrowing boxer Jack Dempsey’s line to his wife the night he was beaten by Gene Tunney).[17] Significant quantities of blood came out of the chest tubes. The chief of thoracic surgery, Dr. Benjamin L. Aaron, decided to operate because the bleeding persisted. Ultimately, Reagan lost over half of his blood volume.[16] In the operating room, Reagan remarked, "Please tell me you’re all Republicans." Giordano, a liberal Democrat, replied, "We’re all Republicans today." The operation lasted about three hours. His post-operative course was complicated by fever, which was treated with multiple antibiotics.[16] Reagan’s staff was anxious for the president to appear to be recovering quickly. The morning after his operation, he signed a piece of legislation. Reagan left the hospital on the 13th day. Initially, he worked two

Secretary of State Alexander Haig speaks to the press about the shooting In fact the Secretary of State is not second in the line of succession but fifth, after the Vice President (at the time, George H. W. Bush), Speaker of the House (at the time, Tip O’Neill) and the President pro tempore of the Senate (at the time, J. Strom Thurmond).


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Haig was accused, by Weinberger and others, of overstepping his authority.[20][21] At the same time, a press conference was underway in the White House. One reporter asked deputy press secretary Larry Speakes who was running the government, to which Speakes responded, "I cannot answer that question at this time." Upon hearing Speakes’ remark, Haig rushed to the press room, where he made the following controversial statement: “ "Constitutionally, gentlemen, you ” have the president, the vice president and the secretary of state, in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the vice president and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course."[19]

Reagan assassination attempt
works for Standard Oil Co. of Indiana. In 1978, Neil Bush served as campaign manager for his brother, George W. Bush, the Vice President’s eldest son, who made an unsuccessful bid for Congress. Neil lived in Lubbock, Texas, throughout much of 1978, where John Hinckley lived from 1974 through 1980.


Reported Hinckley family connections
John Hinckley Jr. is the son of John Hinckley Sr., chairman of the oil company Vanderbilt Energy Corp., one of Vice President George H.W. Bush’s larger political and financial supporters in his 1980 presidential primary campaign against Ronald Reagan. Also, John Hinckley Jr.’s older brother, Vanderbilt vice president Scott Hinckley, and the Vice President’s son Neil Bush, had a dinner appointment scheduled for the next day.[22] The Associated Press published the following short note on March 31, 1981: “ The family of the man charged with trying to assassinate President Reagan is acquainted with the family of Vice President George Bush and had made large contributions to his political campaign....Scott Hinckley, brother of John W. Hinckley Jr. who allegedly shot at Reagan, was to have dined tonight in Denver at the home of Neil Bush, one of the Vice President’s sons....The Houston Post said it was unable to reach Scott Hinckley, vice president of his father’s Denver-based firm, Vanderbilt Energy Corp., for comment. Neil Bush lives in Denver, where he ”

The Reagans wave from the White House after President Reagan’s return from the hospital on April 11 Reagan’s plans for the next month or so were canceled, including a visit to the Mission Control of Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in April 1981 during STS-1, the first flight of the Space Shuttle. ( He would instead visit during STS-2 that November.) Reagan returned to the Oval Office on April 25, receiving a standing ovation from staff and Cabinet members; referring to their teamwork in his absence, he insisted, "I should be applauding you."[23] His first public appearance was an April 28 speech before the joint houses of Congress to introduce his planned spending cuts, a campaign promise. He received "two thunderous standing ovations", which the New York Times deemed "a salute to his good health" as well as his programs, which the President introduced using a medical recovery theme.[24] The two law enforcement officers recovered from their wounds; although, Delahanty was forced to retire due to his injuries. The attack seriously wounded the President’s Press Secretary, James Brady, who sustained a serious head wound and became permanently disabled. Brady remained as Press Secretary for the remainder of Reagan’s


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administration, but this was primarily a titular role. Later, Brady and his wife Sarah became leading advocates of gun control and other actions to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States. They also became active in the lobbying organization Handgun Control, Inc. – which would eventually be renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – and founded the nonprofit Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.[25] The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed in 1993 as a result of their work.[26]

Reagan assassination attempt
states have abolished the defense altogether.[34] Jodie Foster was hounded relentlessly by the media in early 1981 because she was Hinckley’s target of obsession. She commented on Hinckley on three occasions: a press conference a few days after the attack, an article she wrote in 1982,[35] and during an interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes II;[36] she has otherwise ended several interviews after the event was mentioned.[37] The assassination attempt was portrayed in the 2001 film The Day Reagan Was Shot.

See also
• Curse of Tippecanoe • List of United States presidential assassination attempts • United States Secret Service

[1] Taxi Driver: Its Influence on John Hinckley, Jr.Retrieved 26 February 2007. [2] ^ Taxi Driver by Denise Noe. Crime Library. Courtroom Television Network, LLC. Retrieved February 27, 2007. [3] ^ John W. Hinckley, Jr. Biography UMKC Law Retrieved March 20, 2007. [4] I’ll Get You, Foster by Denise Noe. Crime Library. Courtroom Television Network, LLC. Retrieved March 7, 2006. [5] ^ The American Experience - John Hinckley Jr. by Julie Wolf. Retrieved March 7, 2006. [6] Teen-age Actress Says Notes Sent by Suspect Did Not Hint Violence, Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, April 2, 1981. Retrieved February 28, 2007 [7] Yale Police Searched For Suspect Weeks Before Reagan Was Shot, Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, April 5, 1981. Retrieved February 28, 2007. [8] A Drifter With a Purpose, by Mike Sager and Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, April 1, 1981. Retrieved February 28, 2007 [9] ^ The Trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr. by Doug Linder. 2001 Retrieved March 10, 2007. [10] Letter written to Jodie Foster by John Hinckley, Jr. March 30, 1981. Retrieved February 26, 2007. [11] The President is Shot by Denise Noe. Crime Library. Courtroom Television

James Brady in August 2006 Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21, 1982. The defense psychiatric reports had found him to be insane[27] while the prosecution reports declared him legally sane.[28][29] Following his lawyers’ advice, he declined to take the stand in his own defense.[30] Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he is still being held as of October 2008.[3] After his trial, he wrote that the shooting was "the greatest love offering in the history of the world", and did not indicate any regrets.[31] The not guilty verdict led to widespread dismay,[32][33] and, as a result, the U.S. Congress and a number of states rewrote laws regarding the insanity defense.[34] The old Model Penal Code test was replaced by a test that shifts the burden of proof of insanity from the prosecution to the defendant. Three


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Reagan assassination attempt

Network, LLC. Retrieved February 27, [26] Text of the Brady Handgun Violence 2007. Prevention Act. Retrieved March 3, [12] ^ Feaver, Douglas. "Three men shot at 2007. the side of their President", The [27] Psychologist Says Hinckley’s Tests Washington Post, March 31, 1981. Similar to Those of the Severely Ill, by [13] ^ Hunter, Marjorie. "2 in Reagan Laura A. Kiernan, The Washington Post, security detail are wounded outside May 21, 1982. Retrieved March 3, 2007. hotel", New York Times, March 31, 1981 [28] John Hinckley’s Acts Described as [14] Fears of Explosive Bullet Force Surgery Unreasonable but Not Insane, by Laura on Officer, by Charles R. Babcock, The A. Kiernan, The Washington Post, June Washington Post, April 3, 1981 11, 1982. Retrieved March 3, 2007. [15] Guns Traced in 16 Minutes to Pawn Shop [29] Hinckley Able to Abide by Law, Doctor in Dallas, Charles Mohr, New York Says, by Laura A. Kiernan, The Times, April 1, 1981. Retrieved February Washington Post, June 5, 1982. 28, 2007. Retrieved March 3, 2007. [16] ^ Medical chronology of President [30] John Hinckley Declines to Take the Ronald Reagan’s shooting, at Stand, by Laura A. Kiernan, The Washington Post, June 3, 1982. [17] ^ "March 30, 1981" Reagan’s reflections Retrieved March 3, 2007. on the assassination attempt, [31] Hinckley Hails ’Historical’ Shooting To Retrieved March 5, Win Love by Stuart Taylor Jr. New York 2007 Times. July 9, 1982. Retrieved March 21, [18] Morning Edition - Reagan Tapes 2007. [19] ^ "The Day Reagan Was Shot". CBS [32] Verdict and Uproar by Denise Noe. News. Viacom Internet Services Inc.. Crime Library. Courtroom Television Network, LLC. Retrieved February 27, 04/23/60II/main287292.shtml. Retrieved 2006. on 2007-11-29. [33] Public That Saw Reagan Shot Expresses [20] White House Aides Assert Weinberg Was Shock at the Verdict by Peter Perl, The Upset When Haig Took Charge, by Washington Post, June 23, 1982. Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, Retrieved March 3, 2007. April 1, 1981. Retrieved March 3, 2007. [34] ^ The John Hinckley Trial & Its Effect on [21] Bush Flies Back From Texas Set To Take the Insanity Defense by Kimberly Collins, Charge In Crisis, by Steven R. Weisman, Gabe Hinkebein, and Staci Schorgl. New York Times, March 31, 1981. Retrieved March 17, 2007. Retrieved March 3, 2007. [35] Why Me?, An Article by Jodie Foster to [22] Bush’s Son Was To Dine With Suspect’s Esquire Magazine, December 1982. Brother, by Arthur Wiese and Margaret Retrieved March 3, 2007. Downing, The Houston Post, March 31, [36] Jodie Foster, Reluctant Star 60 Minutes 1981 II. 1999. Retrieved April 24, 2007 [23] United Press International (April 25, [37] Jodie Foster UMKC Law - Jodie Foster, 1981). "Reagan Given Ovation On Retrieved March 9, 2007. Returning to Offices". New York Times. fullpage.html?res=9803E6DD1738F936A15757C0A967948260&sec=&spon=. • The Trial of John Hinckley Jr. University of Retrieved on 2008-03-31. Missouri at Kansas City Law School [24] Steven R. Weisman (April 29, 1981). • The American Experience - John Hinckley "Political Drama Surrounds First Speech Jr. by Julie Wolf. Since Attack". New York Times. • Crime Library - The John Hinckley Case by Denise Noe. fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9F01E1DA1638F93AA15757C0A967948260. • Reagan’s reflections on the assassination Retrieved on 2008-03-31. attempt [25] Brady Campaign Official Website • Unedited footage of assassination attempt Retrieved March 3, 2007. on Reagan

External links


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• CNN interrupts normal programming to report attempted assassination of President Reagan. (Quicktime) • 1981 - President Ronald Reagan Shot A report from Wayne Cabot of WCBS

Reagan assassination attempt
Newsradio 880 (WCBS-AM New York) Part of WCBS 880’s celebration of 40 years of newsradio. Coordinates: 38°54′58″N 77°02′43″W 38.9161°N 77.0454°W / 38.9161; -77.0454


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