Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>

A Picture from History: Attempted Assassination

In this Picture from History, we explore the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in March 1981, outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C.

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Wilson Reagan exited the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. after delivering a speech to a labor union conference.

Hundreds of spectators greeted him on the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the president who had taken office less than three months earlier.

Reagan Waving Before Gunfire
Reagan waving to the crowd before shots ring out. (Photo: Reagan Library)

Suddenly, a man emerged from the crowd. He pulled out a .22 Röhm RG-14 revolver and fired all six rounds at the president.

Within moments, members of the crowd and Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy subdued the shooter.

At the same time, Agent Jerry Parr grabbed President Reagan and dove with him into their waiting limousine.

(Photo: Secret Service)

Though none of the rounds directly impacted Reagan, a ricochet off the side of the limousine hit the president under his left arm and lodged in his rib — a mere 25mm from his heart.

Three others, including White House Press Secretary James Brady — yes, the James Brady the Brady Bill was named for — sustained direct gunshot wounds.

The shooter was identified as John Hinckley Jr., a 25-year-old college dropout and failed songwriter.

John Hinckley Jr
John Hinckley Jr. (Photo: Reagan Library)

He’d developed an infatuation with actress Jodie Foster and was upset Foster had not answered numerous love letters and poems.

He decided taking a shot at the president would be the perfect way to win her love. Ok, John.

Hinckley Jr Love Note
A note written to actress Jodie Foster from John Hinckley, Jr. on March 6, 1981. (Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

But why a .22? Surely, if Hinckley wanted to kill the president, he’d use something with a bit more stopping power, right?

Hinckley loaded his revolver with six rounds of .22 Devastator — an explosive lead azide charge in the projectile.

Hinckley Gun and Devastator
(Photo: Gun Digest)

Fortunate for The Gipper, the round that ricocheted did not explode when it impacted his rib.

Unfortunately for Press Secretary James Brady, the round that hit him above the eye and lodged in his skull did explode. It was the only one of the six rounds to do so.

James Brady
An unidentified individual crouches over James Brady while Tim McCarthy lies wounded behind them. (Photo: Reagan Library)

As a result, Brady spoke with a slur and required a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

In the iconic images that came after the attack, Secret Service Agent Robert Wanko is seen standing by with an Uzi.

Secret Serive with Uzi Reagan
(Photo: Ron Edmonds, Associated Press)

A specially modified briefcase designed to discreetly carry it can also be seen.

This was the first image Americans had of the Uzi on American soil. It was also the first confirmation that the Secret Service packed more than handguns.

Reagan Attempted Assassination
(Photo: Reagan Library)

The Uzi remained in use with the Secret Service VIP Detail through the 1990s.

Reagan made a quick recovery from the attempt on his life. But the event marked a turning point in the discussion of firearms legislation.

The .22 revolver Hinckley used was purchased five months earlier using a fake address and expired ID.

Hinckley White House
Hinckley sits outside the White House in 1981. (Photo: Newsweek Archives)

Additionally, Hinckley had been arrested just four days before making the purchase after attempting to board a plane with multiple handguns. He also had a history of psychiatric care.

The Brady Bill, first introduced in 1987 and eventually signed into law in 1993, mandates federal background checks for all firearms purchases.

Brady Bill
Brady looks on as President Bill Clinton signs the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law on November 30, 1993. (Photo: William J. Clinton Presidential Library.)

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical; if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

4 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Andrew James Hodges

    Wow Congress was quick to address the issue, only took them 12 years.

    November 6, 2021 1:38 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      What issue was that? Another infringement on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution?

      October 22, 2022 6:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Love these, keep em coming!

    November 6, 2021 9:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robert Holloway

    Keep doing these. Appreciate them

    November 5, 2021 1:14 pm
Join the community! Log in
Please provide a valid email address.
Password is required.
Please provide a valid display name.
Please provide a valid email address.
The password should contain at least 8 characters with at least one number or special character.
Please accept in order to continue.
Trouble logging in?
Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
Please provide a valid email.
Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

Account in Pew Pew Meter means more

Check what do you get by creating an account
Check and save your reviews!
Bookmark and compare your favorite firearms
Manage your newsletter subscription
pew pew tactical logo

new here?

Personalize your experience.
Select what level shooter you are!

pew pew tactical logo

level up your gun knowledge

Thanks! We'll send you the latest guides and training tips geared towards your level.

pew pew tactical logo


You'll now receive newsletters of our best articles on techniques, guns & gear.

$47 value

yours free!

targets targets

practice targets

printer icon printable

our 9 favorite targets and drills


practice targets

printer icon printable

enter your email to download

We'll only use the information provided according to our privacy policy.

success icon

Ready to Download

Click below to begin your download

download pdf