John Hinckley Jr, who shot and injured US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has been released from court supervision, officially ending decades of supervision by legal and mental health professionals.
“After 41 years, 2 months and 15 days, FINALLY FREEDOM!!!”, he wrote on Twitter shortly after noon on Wednesday.
The lifting of all restrictions had been expected since the end of September.
US District Court Judge Paul L Friedman in Washington DC said he would release Mr Hinckley on June 15 if he continued to remain mentally stable in the Virginia community where he has lived since 2016.
Mr Hinckley, who was acquitted on the grounds of insanity, spent the previous decades in a Washington DC psychiatric hospital.
Mr Hinckley’s restrictions have been gradually eased over the years, including the lifting of limits on his use of social media. Mr Hinckley’s social media following has grown to nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter and YouTube in recent months.
Freedom for Mr Hinckley will include a concert – he plays guitar and sings – in Brooklyn, New York, scheduled for July.
But the grizzled 67-year-old is far from the household name he became after shooting and wounding the 40th US president – and several others – outside a Washington DC hotel.
Today, historians say Mr Hinckley is at best a question on a game show and someone who unwittingly helped build the Reagan legend and inspire pressure for tougher gun control.
“If Hinckley had succeeded in killing Reagan, he would have been an essential historical figure,” wrote HW Brands, historian and biographer of Mr. Reagan, in an email to The Associated Press.
“As it is, it’s a lost soul that history has already forgotten.” Barbara A Perry, professor and director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said Hinckley “maybe all about Jeopardy.”
But its impact remains tangible in Mr. Reagan’s legacy. “For the president himself, to have been so badly injured and come back – it actually made Ronald Reagan the legend he became … like the movie hero he was,” Ms Perry said.
Mr. Friedman, the federal judge handling Hinckley’s case, said on June 1 that Mr. Hinckley had shown no signs of active mental illness since the mid-1980s and had shown no violent behavior or interest in arms.
“I am confident that Mr. Hinckley will do well in his remaining years,” the judge said during the hearing earlier this month.
He noted that lawyers for the government and Mr. Hinckley fought for years over whether Mr. Hinckley should be granted increased freedom.
“It took us a long time to get to this point,” he said, adding that there was now unanimous agreement: “It’s time to let John Hinckley get on with his life, so we will. .”