The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s says he supports stricter gun control measures — including keeping firearms out of the hands of people with mental health problems.

John Hinckley Jr. — who was released from court oversight last month – believes there are “too many guns in America,” he told ABC’s “Nightline” in an interview that aired Tuesday night. 

“I certainly don’t think the mentally ill should have access to guns, I mean that’s kind of obvious,’ Hinckley, 67, told reporter Juju Chang

“Background checks are good, and waiting periods are good,” he went on.

Hinckley, who spent decades in a Washington DC mental hospital and in a Virginia community under court supervision, lamented the current “climate” of the country following a spate of mass shootings in America. 

“The climate of the country right now is not good. It’s not good to have so many guns,” he said.

The would-be presidential assassin was responding to a question from Chang about the Brady Law, named after former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who Hinckley gravely wounded in the 1981 shooting. 

John Hinckley Jr.,
John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan, does not believe guns should be easily accessible.
CBS News
John Hinckley Jr.,
Hinckley was released from court oversight last month.

The law, passed by Congress in 1993, imposed a waiting period and increased background checks for people seeking to buy some guns in the US. 

“Coming from you, that’s quite a statement,” Chang told Hinckley, after the latter signaled his support for increased gun control.

“Well, I hope it is because that’s the way I feel,” he responded. 

John Hinckley Jr.,
“I certainly don’t think the mentally ill should have access to guns, I mean that’s kind of obvious.” said Hinckley during the interview.
AP/Barry Thumma
John Hinckley Jr.,
Police and Secret Service agents reacting during the assassination attempt on US president Ronald Reagan.
John Hinckley Jr.
Secret Service Agents grab the would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr. after he fired his pistol.

Hinckley was 25 years old when he opened fire at Reagan with a rifle outside of the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981.

He was apparently driven by a fantasy to impress the actress Jodie Foster, who at the time was a rising teenage movie star. 

Hinckley was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the nation’s capital after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982.

Since 2016, he was granted the ability to live with his mother in her gated community in Virginia with some court-ordered restrictions. 

On June 15, US District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ordered Hinckley freed from his remaining court-ordered restrictions if he remained mentally stable.


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