News & Politics

Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr. Released

In this Nov. 18, 2003 file photo, John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in order to impress actress Jodie Foster has been released from a mental hospital after 35 years.

John Hinckley Jr., who successfully pled insanity after the assassination attempt on March 30 in front of a Washington, D.C. hotel, also wounded Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty, and White House press secretary James Brady.

USA Today:

The man who shot President Ronald Reagan has been released from a mental hospital after more than 30 years of treatment and rehabilitation, and will live with his elderly mother in suburban Virginia.

John W. Hinckley Jr. was released Saturday morning, the Associated Press and Washington Post reported, and will live in Williamsburg, which he has visited multiple times for short trips.

Hinckley, now 61, was 25 when he shot Reagan, a Secret Service agent, a District of Columbia police officer and James Brady, Reagan’s press secretary. Brady died in 2014 from his injuries; the others recovered.

The shooting on March 30, 1981, helped galvanize opposition to the easy availability of handguns and led to the creation of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Hinckley used an insanity defense during his trial, and was committed to a mental hospital for treatment. Hinckley had been permitted to make longer and longer visits to his mother’s home over the past several years, and a federal judge this summer ruled that he was no longer a threat to himself or others.

Hinckley is technically on “convalescent leave” from the hospital, and he’ll continue to be treated and monitored on an out-patient basis, according to the judge’s order.

Hinckley said he stalked and shot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jody [sic] Foster. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity and he was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Former Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy said “I hope they’re right,” when informed of the release of Hinckley.

And that’s the problem with this and other releases of violent criminals. There’s simply no way to be sure that Hinckley won’t commit another act of violence now that he is no longer trying to win release. While he will apparently still be supervised, it won’t be the same as it was when he was incarcerated.

Many times, we’ve read of violent criminals released under similar circumstances only to kill again. You would think shooting and almost killing the president would get someone locked up for the rest of their lives, either behind prison bars or in a mental institution, but today, we must show “compassion” for the would-be assassin and allow him to go home to his mother.