Brady calls for tougher gun control laws
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former White House spokesman James Brady on Wednesday called for more gun-control laws, just two days before the 20th anniversary of the assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan.
Brady, who was wounded in the attack, was accompanied by his wife, Sarah Brady, head of Handgun Control Inc. at a Washington news conference.
On March 30, 1981, John W. Hinckley Jr. shot and wounded Brady, Reagan, a police officer and a secret service agent as they left a Washington hotel. The attack left Brady brain-damaged and unable to walk.
Despite the grave nature of the anniversary, Brady attempted to inject a ray of optimism. "The occasion won't be altogether sad because the shooting ultimately led us to dedicate our lives to strengthening our nation's gun laws and making our country safe from gun violence," Brady said.
Lobbying efforts by Handgun Control led to the passage of the so-called Brady Bill in 1993, which required background checks for all gun purchasers except at gun shows.
Brady praised the law on Wednesday but said much more should be done to restrict access to guns by criminals and children. He criticized Congress for recently reaching bipartisan consensus and then failing to pass a bill that would require child safety locks to be sold with every handgun purchased and require buyers at gun shows to undergo a background check.
"So why weren't those laws enacted?" Brady said. "The gun lobby, the well-financed National Rifle Association, called its allies in Congress, took out its checkbook and killed the efforts to pass even these modest and reasonable steps towards safer communities."
"That would mean fewer families facing anniversaries such as the one that my family faces every March 30," Brady said.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, also attended the news conference, along with Reps. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, and Connie Morella, R-Maryland.
James Jay Baker, the NRA's executive director, released a written statement immediately after Brady's news conference.
"The problem with anti-gun groups like Handgun Control Inc., The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence and Americans for Gun Safety is not one of political calculation or strategy, but one of fundamental mission," Baker's statement said.
"Seventy percent of Americans who went to the polls in all 50 states (last Election Day) felt no new gun-control laws should be passed and more money should be spent to enforce the existing laws against violent criminals," he said, quoting a January 2001 Zogby poll.
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