WASHINGTON — James Brady, a former press secretary to Ronald Reagan who was severely wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on the President and later became a prominent gun-control advocate, has died, the White House said on Monday. He was 73.
Brady was one of four people hurt in the shooting outside a Washington hotel. Shot in the head, it was erroneously reported at one point that Brady had died. He was, however, left partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
After leaving the White House, Brady launched the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which pushes for stricter firearms laws. He inspired the so-called Brady Bill, which was a fiercely fought over 1993 measure that requires background checks for gun purchases.
The White House confirmed Brady’s death and praised his legacy.
“He is somebody who I think really revolutionized this job and even after he was wounded in that attack on the president, was somebody who showed his patriotism and commitment to the country by being very outspoken on an issue that was important to him and that he felt very strongly about,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
The Brady Campaign also acknowledged his death in a tweet: “We are heartbroken over James Brady’s passing. We offer our deepest condolences to his wife, Sarah, and their family.”
Brady was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award. The White House press briefing room was named in his honor.
Marlin Fitzwater, Reagan’s longest-serving press secretary, remembered Brady as an enormous talent.
“He knew how information flowed in the city of Washington and he had a great sense of humor that the press liked and respected,” Fitzwater told CNN. “He is a remarkable guy who will be remembered well by everyone who knew him.”
Brady’s gun activism included lending a hand to other organizations with similar goals.
He and his wife, Sarah, appeared in a 2011 ad for the group Americans for Responsible Solutions, an organization formed by former congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s after she was shot and severely wounded at a campaign event in Arizona.