A Brief History
On March 30, 1981, only a bit past two months into his presidency, Ronald Reagan was shot by a mentally ill assassin!
Reagan, riding the crest of popularity from being newly inaugurated and the Iranian hostage crisis having been ended on inauguration day, was in Washington, D.C. and had just delivered a speech to an AFL-CIO audience. Outside the Hilton Hotel, Hinckley was waiting with a cheap .22 caliber revolver loaded with 6 rounds. Before Reagan could enter his limousine Hinckley fired all 6 shots at him, hitting the president with a bullet that ricocheted off the limo! Also struck with bullets were Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady as well as a police officer and a Secret Service agent.
A seriously wounded Reagan was pushed into the limo and taken to George Washington University Hospital with a bullet in his chest right up against his heart! With a punctured lung and blood frothing from his mouth, Reagan insisted on walking into the ER on his own two feet! Unfortunately, he was unable to remain that way and collapsed once inside the ER. Emergency surgery saved the president’s life, and the public was reassured that he would be fine soon enough, which was actually a lie as the wound was much more serious than the government spokespeople let on.
The first major cracked aspect of the assassination attempt was that the bullets used by Hinckley were an unusual exploding kind, with a nose packed with a tiny amount of explosive meant to explode on impact. Luckily for 3 of the 4 people shot, only one of the special bullets actually worked, the one that struck James Brady in the head. Brady was very seriously wounded and suffered permanent paralysis, leaving him crippled for life. The police officer and Secret Service agent were luckier and recovered more completely.
Another incredibly cracked aspect of the event was that Reagan was not hit until he was actually pushed into the limo when a bullet ricocheted off the side of the bullet proof car and entered his chest under his arm. Reagan actually thought he had suffered a broken rib from being violently thrown into the limo and did not realize he was shot! The Secret Service likewise thought Reagan had suffered a broken rib that had punctured his lung, resulting in the frothy blood from Reagan’s mouth.
A ridiculously cracked fact about the assassination attempt is that Hinckley, kind of a loser despite being born into a well off family, was mentally ill and taking psychotropic medicine at the time. He had an obsessive crush on Actress Jodie Foster and had seen the movie Taxi Driver at least 15 times!
Hinckley’s defective logic led him to think that shooting the president would get Jodie Foster to notice him, and in a positive way at that!
Reagan recovered and with a surge in popularity from surviving the gunshot as well. Hinckley was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity and has been tucked away ever since. The public was outraged about the insanity plea and the case became a cause celebre for reforming the insanity defense. Nothing has been done since to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people! That is cracked! The 4 wounded men were most fortunate that Hinckley did not use a more powerful pistol!
Question for students (and subscribers): What would you propose to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
If you liked this article and would like to receive notification of new articles, please feel welcome to subscribe to History and Headlines by liking us on Facebook and becoming one of our patrons!
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Nowrasteh, Cyrus, dir. The Day Reagan Was Shot. Paramount, 2002. DVD.