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Tag: George Washington University Hospital

“Not guilty by reason of….”

"President Reagan attends his first cabinet meeting after the assassination attempt," April 24, 1981 (Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum)


In 2011, a lone gunman opened fire at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and severely wounding Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In the aftermath of the tragedy, a federal judge ruled that the suspect charged in the Tucson shooting “was not mentally competent to stand trial.”

The attack and the later legal ruling were not an unprecedented event in American history. Less than three decades earlier on June 21, 1982, a federal court had found President Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin not guilty by reason of insanity.

President Reagan was wounded when a bullet ricocheted off the Presidential limousine, puncturing his lung and lodging itself within an inch of his heart.

Secret Service agents rushed the President to George Washington University Hospital, where doctors performed successful surgery to remove the bullet. He fully recovered and was able to return to the Oval Office less than a month later, on April 25.

So what happened to John Hinckley, Jr.?

On June 21, 1982, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. Hinckley had a history of mental illness and had exhibited increasingly erratic behavior in the months leading up to the shooting.

The public response to Hinckley’s acquittal was overwhelmingly negative. As a … [ Read all ]

A Shaky, but Official, Signature

The legislation that President Reagan signed the day after he was shot. (Reagan Library)

The legislation that President Reagan signed the day after he was shot. (Reagan Library)

It had not yet been 24 hours since President Ronald Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt—wounds far more serious than the public was told at the time.

But on the morning of March 31, 1981, the three men he relied on most in these early days of his administration came to see him in his room at George Washington University Hospital, about six blocks from the White House.

Chief of Staff James A. Baker, Deputy Chief Michael Deaver, and Counselor Edwin Meese brought with them some urgent business—a piece of legislation that had to be signed. And it had to be signed that day.

It had passed both houses of Congress and, like all bills sent from Congress to the President, bore the signatures of the Speaker of the House, then Democrat Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr., and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, then Republican Strom Thurmond.

The legislation would block an increase in dairy price supports that, without Reagan’s signature on this legislation, would go into effect the next day, April 1, 1981, boosting price supports and costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars. Reagan’s budget makers argued that the mounting costs of the dairy program could run into the billions of dollars.

The President needed to … [ Read all ]