John Hinckley, the man who tried to assissinate President Ronald Reagan, to be freed after 35 years

By admin
29 July 2016

On 30 March 1981 TV viewers watched in shock as a young man tried to assassinate the American president in broad daylight in Washington.

On 30 March 1981 TV viewers watched in shock as a young man tried to assassinate the American president in broad daylight in Washington.

John Hinckley was 25 when he shot at President Ronald Reagan and three others. The incident took place 69 days after Reagan became president.

Reagan wasn’t wearing a bulletproof jacket because the distance from the hotel to his official car was only 10 m. But that distance gave Hinckley more than enough time to fire off the shots.

James Brady, The White House press secretary was the first to be hit. He died in 2014 as a result of the injury he suffered that day. The second shot hit policeman Thomas Delahanty in the neck. The third shot missed the president. Jerry Parr, the special agent in charge of security, bundled Reagan into his car and secret service agent Timothy McCarthy was wounded in the lower body by the fourth shot when he threw himself on top of the president to protect him. The fifth shot hit one of the president’s car’s bulletproof windows, but the sixth ricocheted off the side of the car and hit the president in the chest under his left arm. The bullet pierced one of his lungs and he bled badly. Thanks to good medical care he recovered quickly and resumed his duties soon. Jerry’s action probably prevented Reagan from being hit in the head.

Americans were shocked when a court found Hinckley innocent because of a mental disorder. His obsession with actress Jody Foster apparently drove him to attempt the assassination – he’d wanted to impress her. He developed his unhealthy obsession with Jody after seeing her in the movie Taxi Driver. Hinckley apparently saw it 15 times and strongly identified with Robert de Niro’s character, Travis Bickle. In the movie Travis tries to protect a 12-year-old prostitute, played by Jody.

Hinckley was an experienced stalker. In 1981 he was arrested at the Nashville International Airport for the illegal possession of three guns – after he’d come within a metre of Jimmy Carter.

The weapon

It was a Röhm RG-14 .22 LR revolver that came from Rocky’s Pawn Shop in Dallas. The Devastator bullets were designed to explode when they hit the target. Doctors wore bulletproof jackets when they removed the bullet from Thomas’ neck.

Hinckley and freedom

While Hinckley was in the St Elizabeth Hospital he tried to take his life at least three times. From 11 April 2001 his parents were allowed to visit him without supervision.

From June 2007 he was allowed to spend six nights a week at home with his parents. From 2014 Hinckley was allowed to spend 17 days at a time living in Williamsburg, where he did volunteer work – landscaping duties at a church, library work and work in the caffeteria of a psychiatric hospital. He also started playing bowls and attended lectures and outdoor concerts.

On 22 April 2015 Hinckley applied for unconditional release. New limitations state that he has to do volunteer work for at least three days a week. He has to live with his elderly mother for at least a year and must have a cellphone with him all the time. Comments on Hinckley’s release Michael Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s son, has asked people to forgive Hinckley. “My father did more than say the Lords Prayer; he lived it in forgiving John Hinckley Jr. Maybe we should do the same.”

Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, feels Hinckley should remain locked up, even though she’s forgiven him. She says she will always be haunted by memories of a rainy March afternoon when he father was close to death. Read more: Nancy Reagan dead at 94 “If John Hinckley is haunted by anything, I think it’s that he didn’t succeed in his mission to assassinate the president,” she says. Kenneth M Duberstein, who was Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff for a time, has expressed his shock. “The consequences of trying to kill the leader of the free world should be prison for life,” he says.

Dan Gross, of the Brady Campaign and Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, says, “All Americans should be outraged that it will be just as easy for a would-be killer to buy a gun today as it was 35 years ago.”
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation says, “Contrary to the judge's decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release.”


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