When John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan in March of 1981, little did he know that his actions would ignite a force within Sara Brady that would make the world a safer place for the rest of us.
Sara is responsible for the drafting and passing of The Brady Bill, a law that requires a waiting period and background check for anyone wishing to purchase a handgun. Before the shooting that injured her husband, gun purchasers could apply for and purchase a gun in a matter of hours, with no background check required.
Most people believe it was this attempt on the life of the president that left her husband, press secretary Jim Brady, paralyzed on his left side, that inspired her to draft the Brady Bill. But it was actually another incident that involved her son.
Two years after Jim’s injury, Sara was visiting a friend with her little boy, Scott, in tow. As they climbed into the friend’s truck to go swimming, Scott lifted a gun off of the seat and began playing with it, thinking it was a toy. When Sara took the gun out of Scott’s hands, she was shocked to find that not only was it a real gun, but it was loaded. Realizing that once more the accessibility of handguns had almost brought another tragedy into her family, Sara decided to do something about it. That night she picked up the phone and called the NRA office. “You don’t know me,” she began, “but my name is Sara Brady, and I am going to do everything I can to put the NRA out of business.”
She volunteered at Handgun Control, Inc., and began her campaign to change handgun laws.
The first legislation designed to do that was introduced in 1987, and was named The Brady Bill. Despite support from all major law enforcement agencies, as well as nine out of ten Americans, due to the well financed efforts of the gun lobby, it was defeated.
It took another six years, but when President Clinton took office in 1993, he kept his promise to see that the Brady Bill was passed, and it did.
In the first four years of the Brady Act, 173,000 convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers were prevented from buying handguns.