by R.G. Yoho
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
The recent Congressional testimony of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords reminded me of another incident where a spouse willingly allowed their loved one to become a damaged pawn in the crusade to outlaw legal gun ownership.
In 1981, I was just returning to my college dormitory after classes that day, when one of my friends came running up to me and said President Reagan had been shot.
As somebody who was a small child when Kennedy was assassinated, but still remembered the incident, I was fearful that the United States would lose another president.
You all know the story how that President Reagan went on to recover.
However, another person was gravely injured in that assassination attempt and we are still dealing with the results of that today.
James Brady was President Reagan’s press secretary on that fateful day.
Walking closely beside Reagan, Brady was hit by one of the stray bullets, with which the assassin intended to kill the president.
One can only imagine the suffering his family endured, after the early reports on the incident erroneously stated that Brady had died. Then there were the days, weeks, and months he and his family endured the multiple surgeries and long and painful periods of recovery.
And although he ultimately survived, Brady’s mental capabilities were no doubt somewhat compromised. Brady never fully recovered to a point that he could resume his role as press secretary. It is also my understanding that, before the shooting, Jim Brady was a man of remarkable intelligence and great wit. However, I have seen absolutely none of that quick and biting wit reflected in any of Brady’s public appearances since the shooting.
Perhaps most telling of all was the fact that Brady was the press secretary of a proud Republican president. Today, however, we might be led to believe that the actions of James and Sarah Brady were those of a pair of committed, gun-banning Democrats.
We can only conclude from these examples that James Brady is no longer the same man he was before the shooting.
Perhaps none of us would be.
Therefore, that is why I find it so disturbing that Sarah Brady routinely uses her husband, this high-profile survivor of gun violence, as an emotional prop in her personal crusade to abolish the Second Amendment.
It is no secret that the press secretary suffered severe head trauma in the shootings. Moreover, none of us will ever know how much those shootings forever changed the person he used to be.
Instead, a wheelchair-confined, former Republican press secretary is paraded in front of the media and public by his media-obsessed wife, who routinely appears to be seeking the praise of a political party that a pre-shooting James Brady never endorsed.
Despite the fact that I realize I can never fully understand the pain and hardship they have suffered, I find the whole situation rather unseemly.
I am appalled by the idea that my wife would ever consider using a tragic incident such as this, and my diminished mental capabilities, to undermine everything in which I ever believed regarding the Constitution.
But let’s contrast that to the way that Ronald Reagan reacted to the same incident, in which he nearly lost his life as well.
President Reagan supported the right to bear arms before the shooting; he supported the right to bear arms following his recovery.
Despite the assassination attempt on his life, President Ronald Reagan was a man who never let his circumstances alter his principles.
Men of great conviction are like that.
A strong, healthy, and vibrant President Ronald Reagan would have been appalled by the idea that his wife Nancy would ever use him in a personal crusade to eliminate the individual’s Constitutional rights to which his life was fully committed.
I don’t think any of us will ever know for sure if an unimpaired Jim Brady or Gabby Giffords would have allowed themselves to be used by their spouses to tug the emotional heartstrings of the public on the issue of Gun Control.
Perhaps we will never know.
That is what makes it so unseemly.
Image: Just after assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, 30 March 1981. James Brady and police officer Thomas Delahanty lie wounded; source: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library – The Assassination Attempt; public domain
R.G. Yoho is a writer and author of six books.