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Gun Control Activist Sarah Brady Dies At 73

The wife of James Brady, the White House press secretary who was shot in the head during the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan, devoted her life to strengthening gun control laws.

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Sarah Brady, who became a tireless activist for gun control laws after her husband was shot during the 1981 assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan, died Friday. She was 73.

According to her family, Brady, died in a retirement community in Alexandria, Virginia, after a battle with pneumonia.

She became a fixture of gun control advocacy not long after her husband, former White House Press Secretary James Brady, was shot in the head and left paralyzed during John Hinckley Jr.'s failed attempt on Reagan's life.

Sarah Brady would eventually become chairwoman of Handgun Control Inc. and successfully champion federal legislation in Congress that, among other provisions, required federal background checks for gun purchases.


The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly known as the Brady Act, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and took effect a year later.

In a statement, Sarah Brady's family hailed her efforts and accomplishments as having saved countless lives over the years.

"Sarah courageously stepped up after Jim was shot to prevent others from enduring what our family has gone through, and her work has saved countless lives," the family said. "Sarah was a voice of strength, love and encouragement, and she inspired others, showing that one person could make a difference and change the world — which she did."

Vice President Joe Biden released the following statement on Brady's passing on Saturday:

"Jill and I were sorry to hear of the passing of our friend Sarah Brady. I had the opportunity to speak with her backstage at her husband Jim's memorial just last October, and it was evident that the grace, dignity and determination that characterized them both was as strong as ever—as was the love they shared.

Together, they faced tragedy and turned it into action. I don't remember ever seeing them apart after the assassination attempt that took Jim's mobility but not his drive. They worked the halls of Congress together, stopping Members of Congress and Senators and making their case as a team. Sarah wasn't just by Jim's side as his caretaker and lifelong love—she was a force unto herself, determined to make America a safer place for her children and ours. They forged, through painstaking effort, a bipartisan consensus for simple common sense. And they saved lives. Countless lives.

It was a profound honor to work with Jim and Sarah on the Brady Bill and other efforts to keep guns out the hands those who would harm themselves or others, including those who commit domestic violence.

Sarah and Jim's legacy will live on in the laws they passed together, the organization they built together, the lives they saved together, and the family they raised together. The hearts of all the Bidens go out to Scott and Missy and the entire Brady family in this difficult time."

Sarah Brady leaves behind her son, James "Scott" Brady Jr., and a stepdaughter, Melissa Brady Camins. Her husband died last year, also at age 73.

Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

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