James Brady, the former White House press secretary who was shot and partially paralyzed during the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and went on to found the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has died at the age of 73, members of his family confirmed on Monday.
"We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Jim 'Bear' Brady has passed away after a series of health issues," read the statement released by his family. "Jim Brady's zest for life was apparent to all who knew him, and despite his injuries and the pain he endured every day, he used his humor, wit and charm to bring smiles to others and make the world a better place."
Brady was forced to live in a wheelchair after being shot in 1981 when John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to kill President Ronald Reagan, under whom Brady served as White House press secretary.
Subsequent to the shooting, Brady and his wife Sarah founded the Brady Campaign to advocate for better gun control and safety laws . In 1993, the landmark Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act—known simply as "the Brady Bill"— was signed into law by Congress. As originally intended, the law mandated a five-day waiting period and a background check before a prospective buyer could purchase a handgun.
In the wake of a growing number of mass shootings in the country—and despite the virtual stranglehold of the powerful National Rifle Association and the gun lobby—the Brady Campaign has remained a steady voice for stronger legislative measures to combat the national scourge of gun violence in the United States.
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The family statement continued:
Jim touched the lives of so many and has been a wonderful husband, father, friend and role model. We are enormously proud of Jim's remarkable accomplishments -- before he was shot on the fateful day in 1981 while serving at the side of President Ronald Reagan and in the days, months and years that followed. Jim Brady's zest for life was apparent to all who knew him, and despite his injuries and the pain he endured every day, he used his humor, wit and charm to bring smiles to others and make the world a better place.
Over the years, Jim inspired so many people as he turned adversity into accomplishment. Whether working to prevent others from becoming victims of gun violence, mentoring his Sigma Chi brothers, or working to improve the lives of Americans with disabilities, Jim used his many talents and can-do attitude to make a difference in the lives of others. We believe with all our hearts that he did.
While we mourn the loss of our Bear, we take comfort in the time we had with him and the marked impact he had on us and so many other lives. He will forever live on in our memories and in the powerful example he set for all of us.