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40 Years After The Shooting that Injured James Brady - A New Best-Chance for Comprehensive Gun Violence Prevention

Washington, D.C., March 30, 2020 - On the 40th anniversary of the shooting that injured President Ronald Reagan and his Press Secretary James Brady, Brady, the organization that bears his name, calls for a renewed focus on gun violence prevention. This moment represents the best chance to pass comprehensive and inclusive gun violence prevention policies that our nation has seen in a decade. We cannot let it pass by.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“Forty years ago today, our nation watched in horror as a gunman shot President Regan, two Secret Service agents, Tim McCarthy and Thomas Delahanty, and Press Secretary James Brady. That shooting compelled Jim and his wife Sarah to take up a lifetime of advocacy for common-sense gun violence prevention laws and resulted in the most consequential piece of gun safety legislation in our nation’s history, the Brady Bill.

Forty years later, we are poised to build upon Jim and Sarah’s work, as well as the action, and leadership of survivors and activists, particularly Black and Brown activists, who have worked tirelessly to enact gun violence prevention laws in the decades since.

This year, we have the best opportunity to pass comprehensive gun violence reforms in a decade. It has been over 20 years since the Brady Bill was passed, but, with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and gun violence prevention majorities in both chambers of Congress, we can pass inclusive and comprehensive federal laws and needed policies like funding for community violence intervention programs. Gun violence won’t be stopped with one bill or one law, but we are in the best position in a generation to take a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to ending this crisis. While Jim eventually died from the wounds he received in March 1981, he committed the rest of his life to ensuring that others would not endure the pain that he and Sarah went through. It is essential to see how far we have come and commit to enacting the life-saving policies that Jim and Sarah fought for the rest of their lives. Survivors like Jim, and Sarah, continue to guide our work and remind us that survivors live with the physical and emotional scars of gun violence for the rest of their lives. We are ready to get to work.”

Brady Director of Racial Justice Kelly Sampson shared:

“While Jim Brady’s legacy remains a North Star for our organization, and a starting point for us to continue this work, true action on gun violence prevention remains the unfinished work of our time. In the almost 20 years since the Brady bill, Americans have suffered untold loss and trauma from gun violence and many elected officials have simply washed their hands of any responsibility.

We now have the opportunity to address gun violence in all its forms, learning lessons from previous gun violence prevention actions that did not champion the voices and leadership of Black and Brown communities and activists. From community violence prevention funding, to reforms to end police violence, to a supply side approach to stop the flow of weapons into our communities, leaders across the country are putting forward policies that will help end this crisis and help the communities most affected. Forty years after this shooting, the future is bright for gun violence prevention, and it is brightest because we are looking at this issue holistically and listening to all Americans on how to solve it.”

To Create a Safer America for the Next 40 Years, Brady Calls for:

  • Federal legislation to prevent gun violence, starting with the bipartisan bills before the U.S. Senate, H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446.

  • Executive Action to ban the sale of ghost guns kits, which any person can purchase and easily assemble into a fully functioning and untraceable firearm.

  • Repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) which has been used to shield gun manufacturers from liability

  • Take an evidence-based approach to policing reform. Police violence disproportionately and acutely affects communities of color, particularly Black Americans. Police violence is gun violence and no solution is complete without such reforms.

  • Pass $5 billion in funding for community-based violence prevention and intervention programs.

  • Increase funding for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and improve inspections of federally licensed firearm dealers and take a supply side approach to preventing gun violence.

About the Brady Bill:

Named for James Brady, President Ronald Reagan’s Press Secretary who was injured in the 1981 attempted assassination of the president and who spent the remainder of his life advocating for common-sense gun violence prevention policies with his wife, Sarah, the Brady Bill serves as the fundamental cornerstone of our nation’s gun violence prevention laws. The bill was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by then-Rep. Charles Schumer in 1991. While the bill faced staunch opposition from the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association, the Bradys worked with a committed team of advocates who lobbied members of Congress relentlessly and convened a broad and diverse coalition that united every corner of American life, from law enforcement to medical professionals, civic leaders, civil rights organizations and educators.

After multiple reintroductions, Rep. Schumer reintroduced the bill on February 23, 1993, with President Bill Clinton signing the final bill into law on November 30, 1993 and the law going into effect on February 28, 1994.

The law established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which has served as the bedrock for all subsequent gun violence prevention laws. In the 27 years since, the Brady Background Check System, NICS, has prevented over 4 million prohibited gun transactions. In 2015 alone, over 619 prohibited gun transactions were prevented every single day.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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