Jim Brady, who was critically wounded during the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, died last month at age 73. Jim was shot and left partially paralyzed when a deranged person tried to shoot the president in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981. As we know – all too well – since that time gun violence has become a most serious problem in this country. Not only are there shootings of individuals, but mass killings have become commonplace.
As the incidents of such senseless violence increased, Jim and his wife Sarah became tireless advocates for sensible gun laws. They established the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Their work helped create legislation requiring background checks for handguns bought from federally licensed dealers. On Nov. 30, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, more commonly called the “Brady Bill.” This law is credited with preventing more than 2 million attempts to purchase firearms at gun stores by prohibited buyers.
In 1996, Jim Brady received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, in recognition of his work advocating against gun violence. In 2000, the White House Press Briefing Room was dedicated as the “James S. Brady Press Briefing Room” in his honor. Although he never worked as press secretary after the shooting, Jim kept the title for the remainder of President Reagan’s presidency.
In December 2000, the Boards of Trustees for Handgun Control and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence voted to honor Jim and Sarah Brady’s hard work and commitment to gun control by renaming the two organizations “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence” and “The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.” Jim served as an Honorary Member of the Board of Trustees of both the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Unfortunately, it seems that over the past few years, we take one step forward and then two steps back, as more and more often we are hearing about events involving mass shootings that are only becoming more common. In fact, the reports are almost daily with the news no longer being a shock. That’s a sad commentary on our times.
Meanwhile, we are left to answer some difficult questions. How can we stop this tide of violence? How do we balance upholding our Second Amendment freedoms of responsible gun ownership, and effectively keep firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them? Where do our answers lie? Regardless of how one feels about the political debate over gun control, I believe all should agree that Jim Brady was a great American. I can say – without hesitation or reservation – that he was!
Sources: Washington Post, americansforresponsiblesolutions.org, BradyCampaign.org
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