President Ronald Reagan once wanted to meet with the deranged man who attempted to assassinate him but was talked out of the meeting by his advisors.
The story about Reagan is resurfacing after it was announced John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot and nearly killed President the 40th U.S. President in 1981, will be unconditionally released from court-ordered psychiatric supervision on June 15. In the face of public outcry, Hinkley’s legal team, federal prosecutors, and mental health experts assured the court that Hinckley no longer poses a threat.
Hinckley attempted to assassinate Reagan with a .22 caliber handgun as he left the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981 just two months after being sworn into office. The bullet punctured a lung and caused severe internal bleeding. It took decades before it was revealed that Reagan was near death at the hospital.
The shooting also wounded police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy. He critically wounded Press Secretary James Brady, who was hit in the head above his left eye, with the bullet passing underneath his brain and shattering his brain cavity. Although Brady survived, the wound left him with slurred speech and partial paralysis, which required full-time use of a wheelchair. He also had issues with memory, controlling his emotions, and recognizing people.
READ: Reagan’s faith shared with new generation
Brady died from his injuries 33 years later, and his death was ruled a homicide. Reagan died in 2004, 10 years after he revealed in an emotional address to the American people he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Hinkley’s controversial release is serving as an opportunity to remember details of the shooting and events that led up to it.
Court documents say he sought to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he developed an obsessive fixation. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remained under psychiatric care for over 30 years.
According to political commentator and author Craig Shirley, who has written four books about President Reagan, the president wanted to meet with Hinckley and offer his forgiveness.
“Reagan, believe it or not, forgave Hinckley and actually wanted to go meet with Hinckley to tell him in person, ‘I forgive you,’” he told God Reports. White House Physician, Dr. Daniel Ruge, M.D., and the team of psychiatrists who treated Hinckley told Reagan it was a bad idea, “because Hinckley was a twisted sociopath. egotistical and would misinterpret Reagan’s gesture.”
“Like most sociopaths, he only felt his own pain. He didn’t feel other people’s pain. He was an egomaniac. He was twisted beyond belief in his mind, which of course, led him to shoot the president to impress a Hollywood actress,” Shirley notes.
Shirley believes Reagan chose to forgive and meet with Hinckley because of his deep faith and the example set by Pope John Paul II. “That’s where I think Reagan got the idea. Because Pope John Paul II met with the assailant who shot him in the Vatican Square. And Reagan, I think, got the idea from Pope John Paul that he could do the same thing but, but he was advised against it because Hinckley would misinterpret the signals as legitimizing what he did.”
John Paul II was shot and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali Ağca, an expert Turkish gunman, as he entered St. Peter’s Square to address an audience on May 13, 1981. Two years later, the pope visited Ağca in prison, and offered his personal “pardon” in a 20-minute meeting.
Shirley is disappointed by Hinckley’s release, which he attributes to a cabal of left-wing lawyers, along with the presiding judge. “Judge Paul Friedman, who has been supervising Hinckley’s case for years and gradually granting him more and more freedoms, was appointed by Bill and Hillary Clinton to the federal bench, and he’s a lefty.
“This whole thing has been political. Going back to day one, when a bunch of liberal lawyers got together, paid for by Hinckley’s father, who was a wealthy oil executive, including Greg Craig, who later went on to become general counsel inside the Obama White House. They all represented Hinckley to get him declared insane but innocent. So, for shooting four men, including the president of the United States, which is a federal crime, and for killing Jim Brady, he has never spent a day behind bars. He’s gone to a psychiatric hospital for the duration.
“But he was free to roam the grounds and roam the corridors and have girlfriends. So he’s never known any real punishment. And now off of his ill-gotten fame from shooting Reagan, he’s trying to make a music career, and quite frankly, his music is atrocious. But the liberals in New York will support it.
Shirley admires Reagan’s offer to forgive, something he would find personally difficult. “After the assassination attempt, Reagan’s spirituality was driven even deeper into his soul. He had a meeting with Father Hesburgh, several months after he was shot, as he was recovering. And Father Hesburgh, who was then the president of Notre Dame said, ‘God’s hand was on your shoulder that day.’
And Reagan replied, “Yes. And whatever time I have left is His.”
–Mark Ellis | Founder of God Reports, a website devoted to promoting Christian missions by sharing stories and testimonies from missionaries and mission organizations. http://godreports.com | used with permission.