Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr, Now Free, Apologizes After 41 Years

If you were alive at the time, you’d remember that the name was on everyone’s lips: John W. Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981. While his assassination bid did not succeed, he did manage to shoot Reagan in the chest, and severely injured Press Secretary James Brady. Also wounded were a Secret Service agent and a police officer.


Hinckley, who was was unconditionally released on June 15, sat down for a CBS News interview with correspondent Major Garrett that aired Tuesday, in which he claimed regret:

I have true remorse for what I did. I know [the victims] probably can’t forgive me now, but I just want them to know that I am sorry for what I did.

He went on to claim that he is no longer the man who carried out such a heinous crime:

Psychologically, that person is dead. I’m a completely different person in mind and spirit.

That may be so, but James Brady, who was paralyzed in the attack, is literally dead as a result of his injuries. (A medical examiner ruled Brady’s 2014 death a homicide caused by the shooting, even though it had occurred decades earlier.) The attack spurred efforts to strengthen gun laws, with Brady and his wife Sarah Brady creating the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

It’s hard to understand how Hinckley is walking around as a free man.


Hinckley also claimed he could not remember the attack:

It’s such another lifetime ago. I can’t tell you now the emotion I had right as (Reagan) came walking out. I can’t tell you that.

It’s something I don’t want to remember.

Incredibly, Hinckley was judged not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, prompting outrage among many Americans. An ABC News poll taken the day after the verdict showed 83 percent of respondents thought “justice was not done.” The perceived injustice led to many states reforming their insanity defense laws and for—fittingly—President Reagan to sign the “Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984.
Hinckley spent more than 30 years at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., but was granted conditional release in 2016. Now that all conditions are lifted, he seems to be frankly gloating:

Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis opposed Hinckley’s release, saying he was a narcissist who did not feel remorse.

In the CBS News interview he did, however, apologize to those he had shot, as well as to actress Jodie Foster, whom he said he had a “delusional obsession” with and hoped to impress by killing the president. Interviewer Major Garrett noted that neither the families of the victims nor Foster responded to a request for comment.

Hinckley, now 67, lives in Williamsburg, VA, and aspires for a musical career. However, three scheduled performances were canceled because of security concerns. “I don’t know anybody else who’s certainly had a life like I’ve had,” Hinckley said. “I mean, what I tell people now, if you want to get to know John Hinckley, listen to his songs.”


It would seem he needs a little help, though:

Hinckley is now a completely free man, unsupervised, unmonitored, and free to fill his days as he so pleases. He mentioned in the interview he is still on two psychotropic drugs, though, so it’s hard to know how mentally fit he is. It just seems wrong that a man who almost killed a sitting US president is walking the streets freely.


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