On the morning of Friday, April 3, Sarah Brady left this life to join her beloved husband Jim “Bear” Brady.
Sarah Brady was my hero, my role model, and my friend. She never spent time harping on the unfairness of the tragedy that befell her family. She was too busy changing the world, making it better for the rest of us.
After Jim was shot in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981, no one would have blamed Sarah for spending the rest of her days simply taking care of her family.
For a while, that’s exactly what she did. Sarah kept a low profile in the four years following the attack that left Jim partially paralyzed. Then something happened that would change both her life and the course of our nation’s history.
While visiting Jim’s hometown in Illinois, her 6-year-old son Scott picked up what looked like a toy gun and began waving it around.
Sarah figured it was a perfect chance to talk to him about safety. She took the little gun away from him, intending to explain why he must never point even a toy gun at someone.
As soon as she got it into her hand, Sarah realized it was a real, fully loaded .22 caliber pistol — just like the gun used to shoot Jim.
Sarah was livid. Her father had been an FBI agent, so she’d grown up with a gun in the home. But this experience was different. Someone had left a gun lying around, and that person’s obvious lack of responsibility nearly caused a second shooting tragedy in her family.
That was the day Sarah Brady decided something needed to be done to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals. This year, as the Brady Campaign celebrates the 15th anniversary of the Million Mom March, it’s worth noting that Sarah did not become the fierce and tireless advocate we all know just because her husband was a high-profile victim of gun violence.
Instead, it was a mother’s love for her child that finally compelled Sarah Brady to take action and make a difference in the world.
Now it is up to us to continue her great legacy. I am confident that together we will do great things — and I’m not the only one.
Before she passed, Sarah was more energized about our work than ever. She was truly excited to see this organization engage a new generation around initiatives to Stop “Bad Apple” Gun Dealers and keep crime guns off our streets . . . to Finish the Job that she and Jim started by expanding background checks to cover ALL gun sales . . . and to inspire safe and responsible behavior through the ASK Campaign by encouraging parents to ask the simple, life-saving question: “Is there an unlocked gun where my child visits or plays?”
I will miss Sarah Brady deeply. She was one of the toughest, bravest, and strongest people I’ve been honored to know. At the same time, I know that she and Jim are looking down on us with full confidence that we will continue the work they started with the Brady Campaign more than 30 years ago.
I invite you to join us in this effort in every way you can. Whether you choose to sign a petition, attend a rally, start a new Brady or Million Mom March chapter, speak out in your community, or make another generous gift to support our work, your actions will define our success in the days, months, and years to come.
Jim and Sarah fought the good fight. Now it is up to us to carry on their work by changing gun laws, changing the gun industry, and changing the conversation about the risks of guns in the home. Together we can honor Jim and Sarah and make certain that their lives' work continues to make America safer.