Saturday, April 11, 2015

199.2 - RIP: Sarah Brady

RIP: Sarah Brady

We have an RIP this week.

In the summer of 1985, a woman phoned the national headquarters of the the Nutzoid Rabbit-brains of America - the NRA - and left a message: “My name is Sarah Brady, and you’ve never heard of me, but I am going to make it my life’s ambition to try to put you all out of business.”

Sarah Brady, widow of James Brady, the press secretary to Ronald Reagan who was shot and paralyzed during the assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981, and the woman who for years became the public face of efforts for gun control, has died at the age of 73. The cause of death was pneumonia.

Sarah Brady
Interestingly, it wasn't the shooting of her husband that turned her into a gun control activist. That came four years later, in 1985. As she describes it, her young son picked up what she thought was a toy gun on the seat of a friend's pickup. Her son started to wave it around and she took it from him only to discover that it was in fact a real, fully loaded, .22, similar to the gun that was used to shoot her husband. The thought of would could have happened, she said, hit her like a ton of bricks.

She was instrumental in the 1993 passage of the Brady bill, named for her husband, which required a waiting period and a background check on all handgun purchases through federally licensed dealers and instituted a ban on manufacturing and sales of assault rifles, a ban which expired in 2004 and was not renewed because the wusses in Congress turn all wobbly-kneed when the NRA -  - scowls.

That fact also brings up the sad state of the debate - or lack of it - over gun control and how low we have gone. The only legislative goal her organization - the Brady Center - lists is universal background checks. Meanwhile, a group it partnered with for a time, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, started in 1974 as the National Coalition to Ban Handguns, a name that was dropped 15 years later. While that group's mission - banning certain sorts of weapons including types of handguns - is supposedly the same, none of its current campaigns address any of that.

Meanwhile, we keep dying by the gun by the tens of thousands every year, over 30,000 of us in 2013, the most recent yearly figures available. Indeed, in that year  in 17 states and the District of Columbia, more people died by gunshot than died in car accidents.

Sarah Brady was not able to stop that trend and I would say her stands, her positions, on gun control were not nearly aggressive enough - but she did what she could and she did far more than most. For that, she deserves our thanks and our respect.

RIP Sarah Brady.

Last thing: The NRA issued a statement saying that its thoughts and prayers were with the Brady family and, quoting, "Although we disagreed on public policy, Sarah Brady was an honorable American who we always respected."

Frankly, I don't believe that last part for one second.

Sources cited in links:

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