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Monday, August 4, 2014

Former Reagan Press Secretary James Brady Dead

James Brady, the press secretary who was shot as he tried to shield President Ronald Reagan from an assassin's bullet has died.   

Brady was left paralyzed after the 1981 incident. President Reagan survived the attack by John Hinkley, Jr. outside the Washington Hilton hotel.  The hotel serves as the present venue for the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.  

The assassination attempt would later spawn the Brady handgun control bill (signed by President Bill Clinton) which, under law, meant prospective gun purchasers must wait at least five days while a background check was done before they could legally purchase a handgun.  The bill gave way to backlash by those who say the bill trampled upon a person's Second Amendment rights.

James Brady gives reporters a thumbs up sign, circa 2005.   Photo/Reuters.
That was thirty-three years ago, and the same gun control debate prevails today even in the midst of school, neighborhood, theater shootings, and other random acts of gun violence around the country.  

President Obama called Brady "a legend at the White House for his warmth and professionalism for the strength he brought to bear in recovering from the shooting... and for turning the events of that terrible afternoon into a remarkable legacy of service through the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence." 

The White House briefing room was renamed the James Brady Briefing Room.  A plaque on the wall in his honor reads, “May his courage and dedication continue to inspire all who work in this room and beyond.” 

Brady's death prompted a co-joined statement by several White House press secretaries today to include current Press Secretary Josh Earnest,  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 whose remarks state:

"Jim Brady defined the role of the modern White House Press Secretary. With his passing we lost a friend and mentor, and the country lost a selfless public servant who dedicated his life to service, even in the face of tragedy. Jim always did his job with the highest integrity. He had a true affection and respect for the press, relished a good sparring with the front row, and was an unfailing defender of the President and the value of a free press. Jim set the model and standard for the rest of us to follow. It's been a genuine honor for each of us to stand at the podium in the briefing room that will always bear his name. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s wife Sarah and his children Scott and Melissa."

Current press secretary Josh Earnest added that Brady was, "Somebody who I think really revolutionized this job.  And even after he was wounded in that attack on the president [Reagan], was somebody who showed his patriotism and commitment to the country by being very outspoken on an issue that was important to him and that he felt very strongly about, and that "Brady's legacy is one that all future press secretaries aspire to live up to."

Brady also served as press secretary for former Delaware senator, Bill Roth. Brady is remembered by Vice President Joe Biden as a "dear friend".

Remarked the Vice President today, "It’s been three decades since he nearly lost his life to an assassin’s bullet fired at President Reagan from a gun bought with no background check. But through his paralysis and daily physical struggle, Jim and his wife Sarah showed a dignity, grace, and fierce determination to turn tragedy into action.  Still healing himself, Jim would reach out to survivors of gun violence and other tragedies with a message of encouragement and hope on their own road to recovery. I was proud to have worked with Jim and Sarah in the 1980s and 1990s as they persevered privately to publicly lead the bipartisan consensus for commonsense efforts to keep guns out the hands of those who would use them to harm themselves or others. And I am grateful for their ongoing, rational, and heartfelt guidance as our nation continues to experience devastating gun violence tragedies, like the one at Newtown and in towns and cities across America."  

Brady passed at a nursing home in Alexandria, Virginia. He was 73.

Brady death ruled a homicide.  What this means.

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