A profile in courage

Profiles in Courage was a Pulitzer Prize winning book written by John F. Kennedy about actions taken by eight senators that involved great political risk.

Four years ago a man who was not a senator but who was a living example of a profile in courage died. James Brady was Ronald Reagan’s press secretary in March 1981 when he was shot during an assassination attempt on the president. Brady, Reagan, a D.C. police officer and a Secret Service Agent were shot by John Hinckley. Brady’s wound — a gunshot to the head — was by far the most serious.

Never again would the man known for his outrageous and usually self-effacing humor be able to talk without slurring his words. Never again would he be able to walk unassisted. The Associated Press reported that he had short-term memory loss and was in constant pain.

But Brady continued to serve in Reagan’s press office until the president left office in January, 1989.

His courage manifested itself when he and his wife Sarah fought the Washington establishment and the National Rifle Association for gun control laws. Reagan, who had been a lifelong NRA member, wrote a column in The New York Times backing their proposed legislation after he left office.

The Brady Bill, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, mandated background checks and waiting periods for those buying handguns from federally licensed gun shops.

The Bradys maintained the background checks would keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and the mentally ill. They continued to fight for more gun control laws until Brady’s death.

James Brady’s willingness to offer his visage as a testament to the dangers of guns in the wrong hands was truly courageous.

Sources: The Associated Press and The Washington Post

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.