Reagan press sec. calls for 'common sense' gun laws

March 30, 2011 2:59:20 PM PDT
Thirty years ago a deranged stalker who was trying to impress a movie star shot President Ronald Reagan as he left a Washington hotel.

Reagan survived in part because of his heroic Secret Service team, including Tim McCarthy, who is now chief of the Orland Park Police Department. Thirty years ago, he was 31 years old and he took a bullet to protect the president of the United States.

James Brady, Reagan's press secretary, was also wounded.

Audio from the March 30, 1981, shooting was released earlier this month.

"Shots fired! Shots Fired!" In the initial call the White House, it was reported "Rawhide is OK." But Rawhide, which was Reagan's handle, was not OK. The president was knocked into his limousine by McCarthy's fellow secret service officer. He said he felt the president for wounds. With all the confusion, they decided to get the president to nearby George Washington Hospital.

Brady was face down in a pool of blood. Agent McCarthy was also shot and eventually brought home to the Chicago area.

For 30 years, Brady and his wife, Sarah, have worked for stricter gun laws. On Capitol Hill Wednesday, Brady decried the gun violence that takes 9,500 lives a year in America -- about 50% more than all the U.S. soldier deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

"I know I would not be sitting here in this damn wheelchair if we had common sense legislation, which we had at that time. . . But I guess if you are whacko you can get around these things," Brady.

That night the NCAA decided to play its championship basketball game in Philadelphia amid questions about whether it should go ahead. The president was later quoted in the hospital after life-saving surgery saying, "All in all I'd rather be in Philadelphia."