On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was steps away from the presidential limousine when
six shots rang out toward him at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Three bullets severely wounded three members of Reagan's entourage and security detail – press secretary Jim Brady, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and Thomas Delahanty, a D.C. police officer. One of the bullets, unbeknownst to Reagan or the Secret Service at the time, had bounced off the door of the limousine and punctured the president's lung before it lodged itself close to his heart.
The 25-year-old gunman, John Hinckley, was found
not guilty by reason of insanity for the attempted assassination of a president and sentenced to a 35-year commitment to a mental health facility. Hinckley was transferred out in 2016, and sought "unconditional release" from court supervision in 2020 – just four decades shy of the shooting.
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President Ronald Reagan smiles and waves as he leaves the Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C., March 30, 1981. Among those pictured are, from second left, Secret Service agent Jerry Parr, White House press secretary James Brady, Reagan, White House Deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver, an unidentified policeman, policeman Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy (right). Reagan, Brady, Delahanty, and McCarthy were all shot in the attempt.
President Ronald Reagan is shoved into the presidential state car by secret service agents after a 25-year-old gunman attempted to assassinate him outside a Washington, D.C., hotel, March 30, 1981.
Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy takes bullets intended for President Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1981, after the president left the Washington Hilton. Behind the limousine door, lead agent Jerry Parr shoves the stricken president into the car.
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Police officers and Secret Service agents dive to protect President Ronald Reagan amid a panicked crowd during an assassination attempt by a 25-year-old gunamn outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C., March 30, 1981.
An unidentified secret agent yells orders with his weapon drawn after a 25-year-old gunman fired at President Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1981, outside a Washington, D.C., hotel.
White House press secretary James Brady lies on the sidewalk outside a Washington hotel after he was shot during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1981.
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Armed Secret Service agents surround D.C. policeman Thomas K Delahanty and White House press secretary James Brady outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C., March 30, 1981. Both were shot during an attempt, by John Hinkley Jr, to assassinate President Ronald Reagan; also injured were Reagan and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy.
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Police and Secret Service agents react during the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan was hit by one of six shots fired by John Hinckley, who also seriously injured press secretary James Brady. Reagan was hit in the chest and was hospitalized for 12 days.
First responders load Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy into an ambulance after he was shot during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan outside a Washington, D.C., hotel on March 30, 1981.
Vice President George Bush, followed by White House chief of staff Edwin Meese III, arrives for an appearance before reporters at the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 30, 1981. The vice president interrupted a trip to Texas and returned to Washington after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
Two people hang a sign on a building near the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, March 31, 1981, where President Ronald Reagan is being treated for gunshot wounds he received on Monday in Washington.
A woman reads a Munich newspaper carrying the headline “Reagan in danger after attempt on his life!” in West Germany, March 31, 1981. The attempted assassination of the president of the United States was the number one story in Munich’s media.
White House via AP
President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan seen for the first time in photos on April 3, 1981, at the George Washington University Hospital after a 25-year-old gunman attempted to assassinate the president.
Five members of the jury, which found John Hinckley Jr. not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Criminal Law subcommittee on Capitol Hill, June 24, 1982. The panel held a hearing to study the insanity defense. From left: Glynis Lassiter, Lawrence Coffey, Woodrow Johnson, Maryland Copelin, and Nathalia Brown.
John Hinckley, Jr. peers from a car window after a court appearance in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4, 1984. A federal judge refused to give Hinckley uncensored access to telephone and reporters, and also refused Hinckley’s request that he be allowed to walk around his hospital grounds for an hour a day.
With an emotional James Brady in the foreground, President Bill Clinton speaks in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 30, 1993, prior to Clinton signing the Brady bill. The bill, named after Brady, the former White House Press Secretary who was shot and injured during the 1981 assassinated attempt on Ronald Reagan, requires a five-day waiting period and background check on handgun buyers.
President Bill Clinton signs the Brady Bill in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 30, 1993. Looking on is former press secretary James Brady, Vice President Al Gore and Attorney General Janet Reno.