On Friday, October 10, 2014, our dear friend, former White House Press Secretary, Brady Campaign founder and champion for gun violence prevention, Jim ‘Bear’ Brady was honored at a special memorial service at the Newseum, just a few blocks from the White House briefing room named in his honor.
Following his death at age 73 on August 4 in Alexandria, Virginia, Jim was fondly remembered by Vice President Joe Biden and a host of press secretaries, former colleagues and journalists who hailed him for his triumph over tragedy, and his dedication to preventing the kind of senseless gun violence that he survived.
An inspiration to us all, Jim was left confined to a wheelchair after being shot in the assassination attempt on President Reagan, but never stopped fighting to save American lives from the gun violence that tore his life apart that horrifying day in 1981.
Vice President Joe Biden praised him as a rare example of turning tragedy into action.
“The bullet that the assassin left him robbed him of so many of his faculties,” Biden said. “But it didn’t rob him of his voice.”
Mike McCurry, who served as press secretary to then-President Bill Clinton, read a letter from Clinton crediting Brady with teaching him “the true meaning of perseverance.”
With Jim’s passing, we all feel a deeper appreciation of his perseverance to win passage of the Brady Law, one of the most important laws ever enacted in America. Since the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was signed into law, an estimated 2 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers — including criminals, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people — have been blocked.
Jim’s bravery and unyielding determination were what first inspired me to join the Brady cause. But regardless of being a proud friend of Jim’s over the years, I believe that together, Jim and Sarah Brady have saved more lives than almost any citizen in our nation’s history.
In honor of Jim’s life and legacy, we must remember that our work is not done and it’s up to us to reach the finish line for Jim by demanding that Congress FINISH THE JOB and expand Brady background checks to all gun sales. In a nation where 293 people are shot by guns every day, American lives and the safety of our communities depend on us.
At the memorial, Joe Biden concluded his heartfelt tribute by assuring mourners that one day lawmakers will see the light. “Jim never compromised. Jim was never, ever, ever defeated,” Biden said. “He didn’t just persevere — he triumphed.”
Let’s remember these words and carry the torch for Jim as we continue our fight to FINISH THE JOB.