Why did John Hinckley Jr shoot Ronald Reagan in 1981?

Ella Kipling June 16, 2022
Why did John Hinckley Jr shoot Ronald Reagan in 1981?

In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. caused shock waves around the world when he attempted to assassinate then-President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

Hinckley Jr. was unsuccessful in his attempt and Reagan survived. Over 40 years later, Hinckley Jr. has been granted unconditional leave and is able to “move on with his life,” according to the judge.

Photo courtesy Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images

John Hinckley Jr.’s attempted assassination of former president

In 1981, Hinckley Jr. shot at the 40th US president Ronald Reagan and three others outside of a hotel in Washington. Reagan recovered after surgery for a punctured lung, but his press secretary, Jim Brady, was left with permanent disabilities after a bullet hit his head.

After the shooting, Hinckley Jr. was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington. He lived there for more than 30 years before being granted convalescent leave five years ago, after which he went to live with his mother until she died this summer.

HW Brands, a historian and Reagan biographer, the Associated Press: “If Hinckley had succeeded in killing Reagan, then he would have been a pivotal historical figure. As it is, he is a misguided soul whom history has already forgotten.”

Why did Hinckley Jr. shoot Ronald Reagan?

Hinckley Jr. wrote a letter before the attack, in which he confessed that he was attempting to kill the president to impress Silence of The Lambs actor, Jodie Foster. He had been stalking her after watching her in Taxi Driver.

“This letter is being written only an hour before I leave for the Hilton Hotel. Jodie, I’m asking you to please look into your heart and at least give the chance, with this historical deed, to gain your love and respect,” the letter read.

Hinckley Jr. is granted release

Hinckley Jr. has been granted unconditional release in June 2022 by a federal judge. This has been expected since late September when US district court judge Paul L Friedman said he would free Hinckley Jr. as long as he continued to remain mentally stable in the community in Virginia.

During a hearing on June 1st, Judge Friedman said: “I am confident that Mr Hinckley will do well in the years remaining to him.”

On June 15th, Hinckley Jr. shared the news on Twitter, where he wrote: “After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!”

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Ella is the Head of Content at Freshered and also works a freelance journalist at GRV Media, writing for HITC and Reality Titbit. Her interests lie in news and anything culture related including entertainment, musicals, books, and social media. Ella is also a big supporter of student media and writes for her university’s newspaper as well as hosting her own show on the radio station.