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Ronald Reagan’s Assassination Attempt and the Aftermath that FollowedHannah GivensHIUS 445-B01: Reagan’s AmericaJuly 3, 2019
2After winning the 1980 presidential election, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated on January 20, 1981. Starting in that afternoon, he and his administration started getting their goals and objectives for the United States rolling. However, Reagan’s first term did not start off as he or hisadministration had hoped. Less than three months, only 70 days into his presidency to be exact, Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt while leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel. Reagan and three others were wounded by John W. Hinckley, Jr, who was later founded not guilty due to insanity.The Events of March 30, 1981Start of Reagan’s DayOn March 30, 1981, the day started out like any other day for President Reagan and his administration. He attended meetings and received calls from his administration as well as placing a call to his speechwriter, Kenneth L. Khachigian, before having lunch.1After lunch, he and his Special Assistant, David C. Fischer, heading off to the Washing Hilton Hotel in his motorcade.2“Since the President had been making similar trips to the Hilton approximately once every other week, the White House staff and the Secret Service had developed a standard drill forHilton visit.”3While at the Washington Hilton Hotel, he gave a speech at the National Conference of Building and Construction Trades Department, American Federation of Labor andCongress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).4His speech was in front of about 4,000 members of the union.5The Shooting1 “1981 – March.” Daily Diary. Ronald Reagan Library & Museum.2 Ibid.3 Report. Folder “Assassination Report [1 of 4],” box CFOA 28, Edwin Meese Files, Ronald Reagan Library. 4 “1981 – March.”5 Report. Folder “Assassination Report [1 of 4].”
3After giving his speech, Reagan left the Washington Hilton Hotel to return to his motorcade.6“When the Presidential party came through the VIP entrance, there were more than 200 people on hand. Most of these spectators were across “T” Street, blocked off by James Brady, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, Military Aide Jose Muratti, and advance Special Agent [William] Green. Special Agent Tim McCarthy opened the right rear door of the limousine. The President responded to calls of ‘Mr. President’ from the crowd, and waved first with one hand, then the other.”7It was at this moment, that John W. Hinckley “is alleged to have stepped from the second row of the crowd behind the rope barrier, held a .22 caliber handgun in front of him with both hands, and fired six shots at the President in less than two seconds.”8At 2:25 p.m., President Reagan “was shot in the left side” as he was leaving the hotel.9The bullet that struck the president “had ricocheted off the limousine door and, because Reagan’s left arm was in the air to wave to people across the street, the bullet had a clear path into his chest. If Reagan’s arm had been by his side, it is likely the bullet would have only pierced his upper arm.”