James Brady, Reagan's Former Press Secretary, Dies At 73

James Brady, who became a staunch gun control advocate after being shot during a failed assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, passed away Monday.
Posted at 10:54 PM, Aug 04, 2014

Former White House press secretary and staunch gun control advocate James Brady has died. He was 73 years old. (Via Getty Images)

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: "He leaves the kind of legacy that this press secretary and all future press secretaries will aspire to live up to." (Via C-SPAN)

Brady's family confirmed the news Monday, saying the former Reagan spokesman passed away in Alexandria, Va. after weeks of failing health. (Via Fox News)

Brady was chosen to be Reagan's press secretary in 1981, but had only served in the role for two months when tragedy struck. (Via CBS)

On Mar. 30, 1981, would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr. fired six shots at President Reagan as he left the Washington Hilton Hotel. The first shot struck Brady in the head, severely wounding him. (Via Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum)

Brady survived the shooting, but he suffered partial paralysis and slurred speech. He remained Reagan's official press secretary for the rest of his eight-year term, though the actual job was done by Larry Speakes and Marlin Fitzwater. (Via ABC)

The incident transformed Brady and his wife Sarah into leading gun control advocates. They supported a bill requiring background checks for firearm purchases, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1993. (Via NBC)

The family's foundation, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, estimates the Brady Act has prevented 2 million gun sales to dangerous people. The organization's president Dan Gross said "There are few Americans in history who are as directly responsible for saving as many lives as Jim."

Brady's passing inspired some outlets to reflect on the state of gun control today. 

National Journal notes that gun control has stalled in recent years, and the most recent push for new legislation following the Newtown shooting failed in Congress.

And a Bloomberg writer notes state officials have been working to weaken local gun laws in several states across the country.

"Legislatures in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and elsewhere have been passing legislation seemingly designed to mock everything Brady came to champion. ... Right now, the only thing between another Hinckley and another gun is — well, there isn't anything is there?"

Brady was awarded several honors over the course of his life; he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, and the White House press room was dedicated to him in 2000. He is survived by his wife and two children.