John Hinckley, the man who is best known for almost killing former US President Ronald Reagan, has officially weighed in on the debate of gun control and the mentally ill.
Hinckley was recently released from his over 30 years of psychiatric help following his assassination attempt. He was initially found innocent on the grounds of insanity but has since been declared sane and had his full rights, including his right to bear arms, restored by the court.
The recovered gunman was speaking with journalist Juju Chang from Nightline when the issue of the Brady Law came up. The Brady Law, which mandated a background check period for firearms purchases, was named after Reagan’s former Press Secretary Jim Brady. who was paralyzed during the Reagan assassination.
“I certainly don’t think the mentally ill should have access to guns, that’s kind of obvious,” Hinckley told Chang.
He continued, “Background checks are good, and waiting periods are good. The climate of the country is not good, it’s not good to have so many guns.”
When Chang responded that the notion of restricting firearm access from the mentally ill was a “strong statement” coming from someone with Hinckley’s past, he responded, “Well, I hope it is.”
John Hinckley also told Nightline that his own attempt to kill an American president was as much a “suicide attempt” as it was a political statement. “It was in ways like a suicide attempt just saying, this is it. This is the end of my life,” he said.
The failed assassin did note that he thought the criminally insane were “not incurable”, many simply requiring the proper treatment and medications to control their conditions. He noted that “I still take my meds.”
The attempted assassination occurred when Hinckley was only 25 years old. He had become obsessed with then-child actress Jodi Foster after seeing her in the 1976 film Taxi Driver and was hoping the shooting would garner her attention. Reagan barely survived the attempt and Brady died from the wound years later after being paralyzed for life.
Hinckley expressed his regret over the shooting and the damage it caused to so many people. He told Nightline, “If I could take it back, I surely would.”
Many people, including those in Reagan’s family, are hesitant to accept John Hinckley’s apologies or statements as genuine. Do you agree with him that many mass shootings could be prevented by keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill? Is there even a way to realistically do that?