Reagan shooter John Hinckley Jr: ‘There are too many guns in America’

John Hinckley Jr, who shot President Ronald Reagan and three others in 1981 and spent the ensuing decades in psychiatric confinement, says America has too many weapons that could fall into the hands of mentally ill people bent on violence.

“I think there are too many guns in America,” Hinckley told ABC News’s Nightline on Tuesday.

The 67-year-old, who was released from custody in June, added that he thinks people with mental health conditions shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns.

“I certainly don’t think the mentally ill should have access to guns, that’s kind of obvious,” he said.

Several decades earlier, Hinckley was able to legally buy a gun for $47 from a pawn shop in Dallas without a waiting period or background check despite troubling signs of psychosis in his past.

Previously, he’d told his parents he was in love with a fictional woman named Lynn Collins.

Prior to his attempt to assassinate the president, Hinckley became obsessed with actress Jodie Foster. He sent her notes, moved to New Haven, Connecticut, to be near her, and planned to either kill himself, steal a plane, or shoot the president to get her attention.

He originally planned to shoot President Jimmy Carter, who left office before Hinckley was able to make an attempt on his life.

Instead, on March 30, 1981, then-25-year-old Hinckley shot President Reagan in Washington, DC, wounding police officer Thomas Delahanty, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and press secretary James Brady in the process. Brady was subsequently confined to a wheelchair the rest of his life.

“It was in ways like a suicide attempt just saying, ‘this is it. This is the end of my life,'” Hinckley told ABC of his mental state at the time.

A jury trial later found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity, and he was put on a regimen of anti-psychotic drugs and confined to a hospital.

Thirteen years after the assassination attempt, Congress passed a gun bill named for James Brady. The bill mandated federal background checks and waiting periods on firearms purchases.

The question of just what the government should do to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people is just as alive as it was in 1981.

Communities across the country have suffered horrific shootings throughout 2022, including in Buffalo, Southern California, Uvalde, and most recently Highland Park, Illinois, where Robert Crimo III allegedly killed seven people and injured 36 after opening fire on a 4th of July parade in the Chicago suburbs.

There had been many signs that the 21-year-old Highland Park suspect was unwell, according to officials. There was a 2019 tip that Mr Crimo had tried to kill himself and a call later that year after the troubled young man threatened to kill his entire familyprompting police to sixteen numerous knives and a sword from his home.

Mr Crimo, who was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday, also left a long trail of threatening posts online, including songs and videos glorifying school shootings and violence.

Still, he was able to purchase multiple weapons legally in Chicago, according to police.

Similarly, Uvalde shooter Salvador Ramos made violent threats online towards girls, glorified guns, and alarmed family members with his mental state before he legally purchased weapons.

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