Would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr., who was released Saturday from a Washington, D.C., mental hospital, was found not guilty of his crimes by reason of insanity. His attack on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 inspired the 1993 Brady Law and had a lasting impact on gun control legislation, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “Clearly, (the Brady law) has been the most important factor in keeping guns away from the people who shouldn’t have them,” former Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives director John Magaw told USA Today. “It was a historic and strong piece of legislation.”
The Brady Handgun Violence and Prevention Act instituted background checks and waiting periods for gun buyers, measures that gun control advocates say should be expanded.
Critics of the legislation say the Brady Act had little or no effect on violent crime rates. Eighteen states already had gun control measures in place when the law was passed. Researchers at Georgetown University and Duke University compared homicide and suicide rates from 1985-1997 in those states to the 32 states that gained stricter gun control under the law. “Our analyses provide no evidence that implementation of the Brady Act was associated with a reduction in homicide rates,” according to the 2000 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “In particular, we find no differences in homicide or firearm homicide rates to adult victims in the 32 treatment states directly subject to the Brady Act provisions compared with the remaining control states.”