Former Reagan presidential spokesman James Brady, who died yesterday, left lasting impressions on Missourians who saw and met him at a head injury convention in Jefferson City in 19-98.

Brady’s near-murder during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan led to the federal law requiring background checks on people seeking handgun licenses. He is remembered as a person who fought to live and who fought to lessen handgun violence.   Brady also was a spokesman  for those recovering from traumatic brain injury.

He described for the audience that day his drive to walk again at a convention in Jefferson City in 19-98 “it takes hard work to get to go where you need to go.  Sometimes we have to rely on sheer will and resolve to overcome obstacles,” he said, defining an obstacle as “something you see only when you take your eyes off the goal.”

Brady showed little patience with those who have, year after year, advocated repeal of Missouri’s motorcycle helmet laws, referring to people riding “murdersickles,” and telling them, “Put those helmets on.”

He is best remembered for his long efforts to regulate hand guns that eventually culminated in the signing by President Clinton of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act  despite the opposition of “The Evil Empire,” the National Rifle Association.  The President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says  Brady’s work, “an estimated two million gun sales to criminals, domestic abusers and other dangerous people have been blocked.  As a result, countless lives have been saved.”

Brady knew his work on behalf of those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, and against gun violence, would never end although he felt its strain. “I’d like to ‘gwine lay my burden down’ but I don’t see that in the near future,” he told the audience. “I’m am going to keep working.”


Brady spoke and answered questions for about an hour at that conference in 1998.  We have edited out audience questions and comments that are dated.

AUDIO: James Brady, 1998 30:24