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When Reagan Was Shot, Country Rallied Around, but He Hadn’t Spent Months Downplaying Assassins



Photo of President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan along with Vice-President George H.W. Bush
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WASHINGTON — When President Reagan was shot and nearly killed by a would-be assassin, the country rallied around him. But he also hadn’t spent eight months downplaying the threat of deranged gunmen.
With President Trump’s announcement that he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus, I thought back to the last time the country confronted a major presidential health scare and what we might learn from those dramatic few days in the spring of 1981.
Reagan was shot by John W. Hinckley Jr. on March 30, 1981, as the president and his entourage left the Washington Hilton, where he had given a speech to union members. It was just 70 days into Reagan’s first term.
Hinckley, standing 15 feet from the president, unleashed six shots in 1.7 seconds. He wounded three men — Press Secretary James Brady, D.C. Police Officer Thomas K. Delahanty and Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy — before his final shot deflected off the side of the limo and hit Reagan in the left side.
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