US President Reagan’s gunman John Hinckley gets absolute release

FILE PHOTO: John Hinckley Jr. arrives at E. Barrett Prettyman District Court in Washington DC on November 19, 2003. REUTERS / Brendan Smialowski / File Photo

WASHINGTON – A US judge on Monday announced he would grant “unconditional release” to John Hinckley, who injured former US President Ronald Reagan and three others in an assassination attempt in 1981.

“I will, after all these years, grant Mr. Hinckley full release,” US District Judge Paul Friedman said at a hearing in the District of Columbia.

In 2016, Friedman cleared Hinckley from a Washington mental hospital, where he had lived for three decades, but imposed restrictions on his movement and internet use.

Friedman said during Monday’s hearing that he plans to lift the remaining restrictions. Hinckley’s mental health issues are “in remission” and he’s no longer a danger, Friedman said.

Friedman said he would issue a written order later this week to commemorate his decision.

Federal prosecutor Kacie Weston said during the court hearing that the US Department of Justice agreed that Hinckley should be released unconditionally. But Weston has argued that the restrictions shouldn’t be officially lifted until June 2022 so prosecutors can continue to watch Hinckley as he comes to life on his own after his mother’s death.

Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post that she opposes Hinckley’s release and now fears he may be able to contact her. “I don’t believe John Hinckley feels remorse,” she wrote.

Reagan suffered a punctured lung during the assassination attempt, but quickly recovered.

Other injured included White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington Police Officer Thomas Delahanty.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in a jury trial in 1982. This verdict prompted Congress and some states in the United States to pass laws limiting the use of the insanity defense.

The shooting helped start the modern gun control movement as Brady, who was left permanently disabled, and his wife, Sarah, founded what is now known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

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Kevin E. Boling