Jim Brady Frustrated by Gun Control Progress

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It's been 25 years since the bullets from John Hinckley Jr.'s 22-caliber pistol sent the nation into shock when he attempted to assassinate President Reagan.

Hinckley not only wounded Reagan, but he seriously injured two law enforcement officers and Jim Brady, who was assistant to the president and White House press secretary.

Brady says he is "acutely aware" of the difference in himself as a result of the brain injury he suffered. But one thing that hasn't changed is his trademark sense of humor, which has clearly helped him heal, perhaps by keeping darker feelings at bay. When asked what he does when he hears Hinckley's name, he replied, "I grab my crucifix and put it up and eat garlic."

He admitted that he'd like to "give him a taste of his own medicine."

His ongoing recovery has been a tremendous test of Jim and Sarah Brady's marriage, but their warmth and playfulness toward each other is obvious.

"It goes so slowly with a head injury," said Sarah Brady, adding that she saw more change in her husband after 10 years than she did in the first year or two.

They are a couple who have had more than their fair share of burdens. Although it's now in remission, Sarah Brady developed lung cancer five years ago -- something that might have flattened someone else in her position.

"You know, I was sort of prepared because I'd been through a trauma with Jim," she said. "I think I was more able to just look at it day by day rather than worrying about what was going to happen in the future."

That undaunted spirit has served them well, especially in their high-profile battle for gun control. They are frustrated that in the 13 years since the Brady Bill was signed, gun control efforts have largely stalled, and they single out the party they once proudly served.

"The Republican Party today is not what the Republican Party was 20 years ago," Sarah Brady said. "It's moved so far to the right. We were proud of politicians 10 years ago and 12 years ago who stood up and did the right thing. Today, I don't think they're doing the right thing. They're looking out for themselves."

The fight helps keep their thoughts on the future, but of course anniversaries have a way of forcing the past back into focus. Jim Brady remembers that he wasn't even supposed to be with Reagan that day.

"But like an idiot, off I went," he said.

"You can't look at what life is like before and say, 'What if?'" Sarah Brady said. "I mean how lucky we are that he is here!"

Jim Brady says he tries not to think about that fateful day.

"[The memory] is fading a bit, and I like that," he said.

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