Today in History: Pres. Ronald Reagan target of assassination attempt

Photo of Dominic Genetti

Six shots were fired 41 years ago today. Six shots from a revolver that could've assassinated the President of the United States, not even 20 years since the three that took the life of President John F. Kennedy. Only this time more cameras were rolling, the Secret Service was ready, and the suspected killer lived to see his day in court. 

President Ronald Reagan, an actor turned politician, was just a little over 60 days in office when he left the Washington Hilton on Monday, March 30, 1981 following a speech to the AFL-CIO luncheon. As he made his way out to the presidential limousine, John Hinkley, Jr. pulled the trigger of his Röhm RG 14.

At first, the President and his handlers thought he escaped without injury, but the Commander-in-Chief began coughing blood and was rushed to the George Washington University Hospital. Reagan underwent thoracotomy surgery because the internal bleeding would not stop. He left the hospital two weeks later. 

During Reagan's hospital stay and recovery, the 25th amendment was enacted making then-Vice President George H.W. Bush acting president. 

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Hinkley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Details that have withstood time are his admiration of suspected Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and his obsession with actress Jodie Foster. He was released to the care of his mother in 2016, and will have his unconditional release this June.