The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jim and Sarah Brady Urge Congress to Continue Progress on Life-Saving Legacy Begun by the Brady Law

On 30th Anniversary of Reagan Assassination Attempt, Bradys Express Strong Support for "Assault Clips" Restrictions and Stronger Background Checks


President Bill Clinton once summed up the public service of Jim and Sarah Brady this way: "If it hadn't been for them, we would not have passed the Brady Law, and then the ban on assault weapons, and on cop-killer bullets...How many people are alive today because of Jim and Sarah Brady?" the President asked, and then answered, "Countless."

The Bradys' life-saving legacy, however, has its roots in the terror-laden seconds 30 years ago today when a mentally-ill man armed with a .22-caliber handgun shot President Ronald Reagan, a Secret Service agent, a police officer and Jim Brady. Just 69 days earlier, Jim had achieved his long-held dream of becoming White House Press Secretary. Of the four wounded, Jim's injury was the most severe -- a gunshot to the head that left him partially paralyzed for life.

Today the Bradys have come to our nation's capitol to mark that tragic event with a petition to the world's most powerful leaders. In a news conference at the Russell Senate Building, Room 485, the Bradys were joined by Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke, Senators Frank Lautenberg and Dianne Feinstein, and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, as they pressed members of Congress to work for the passage of sensible new gun laws that will continue and enhance the life-saving tradition of the Brady Law.

Since its enactment in1994, the Brady law has blocked an estimated 2 million prohibited gun purchases, including more than 800,000 felons. After the law was adopted, murders dropped 30 percent. Nearly three-quarters of the drop in murders was accounted for by the sharp decline in gun murders. This historic drop in murders has been sustained, with murders in the most recent year available (2009), at their lowest level since 1970.

"Jim and Sarah Brady know a lot about challenges," said Brady President Paul Helmke. "But where others see obstacles, the Bradys, with their indomitable spirits, see opportunities. After all of these years, it is an honor to be a part of their legacy and to see them still fighting to protect the American people from the dangers of guns. We need more public servants like the Bradys."

The Bradys called, particularly, on Republicans, most of whom have been silent about the need for new laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous and irresponsible people, to do what is in the nation's best interest.

"We've come to Washington and Capitol Hill at a time when the tragedy in Tucson is still fresh in American minds," said Sarah Brady, wife of Jim and Chair of the Brady Campaign. "We've come at a time when a record number of police officers have been shot and killed, and we've come when there are sensible proposals in Congress that could limit this bloodshed and save more lives."

Specifically, Sarah and Jim Brady, called for support of the passage of House Bill 308 and Senate Bill 32, introduced respectively by Rep. McCarthy and Sen. Lautenberg, which would ban large-capacity assault clips, like the one used by the Tucson shooter to kill six people and wound 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, on January 8. The Bradys also stressed the need to strengthen the Brady Law by requiring background checks on all gun sales, not just those by federally licensed dealers.

The Brady bill received a tremendous amount of bi-partisan support on Capitol Hill and it was backed strongly by former President Ronald Reagan. Fifty-six Republicans in the House voted to pass the Brady Bill in 1993. Eight of them remain. Fifteen Senate Republicans voted for the Brady Bill. Three are in the Senate today.

"Presidents Reagan and Clinton understood that the problem of gun violence is an American problem and that it deserves bi-partisan American solutions," said Jim Brady. "They were not cowardly lions when it came to what needed to be done to protect Americans from dangerous people."

Senator Lautenberg agreed more of his colleagues in Congress need to join in support of new laws.

"Thirty years ago today, we saw that no one in our country is safe from gun violence, not even the President and his staff," Sen. Lautenberg said. "Jim and Sarah Brady have made our country safer, but we still have more work to do. We have to bring back the ban on oversized ammunition magazines that turn handguns into weapons of mass destruction and require background checks for every gun sale. These are common-sense reforms that can protect Americans from needless violence and make our communities safer."

Said Congresswoman McCarthy: "Jim and Sarah Brady are living proof that gun violence can strike anywhere anytime, and efforts to reduce it are not limited to Democrats and law enforcement. The Bradys' support for banning high-capacity magazines and strengthening background checks are the most poignant reminder yet that we must do everything we can to reduce injuries and save lives in our nation."

The eight Republicans who voted for the Brady Law and are still serving in the House of Representatives are: Gus Bilirakis (FL-9), Elton Gallegly (CA-24), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Cliff Stearns (FL-6), Fred Upton (MI-6), Frank Wolf (VA-10), and Bill Young (FL-10) The Senate Republicans who voted for the Brady Law and are serving in the Senate today are: Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX), Dan Coats (IN), and Richard Lugar (IN).

Brady United formerly known as The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence. We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.