Sarah Kemp Brady, who became a prominent gun control advocate after her husband, former White House Press Secretary James Brady, was shot during the attempt on President Ronald Reagan's life in 1981, died Friday after battling pneumonia, her family said in a statement. She was 73.
"Sarah courageously stepped up after Jim was shot to prevent others from enduring what our family has gone through, and her work has saved countless lives," the family's statement read.
John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the attempted assassination of President Reagan and of related charges. James Brady, Reagan, police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy were shot March 30, 1981, as they left the Washington Hilton Hotel. Shot in the head, Brady suffered the longest lasting injuries.
He had been partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair since the assassination attempt, and his speech was slurred. James Brady died in August at age 73. The medical examiner's autopsy found the cause of death to be the gunshot wound and its consequences.
In 1989, Sarah Brady, who was an elementary school teacher, became affiliated with Handgun Control, Inc., which was renamed the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in 2001. She became chair in 1991.
Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and his wife, Jill, “were sorry to hear of the passing of our friend.”
The statement also said that, “Sarah wasn't just by Jim's side as his caretaker and lifelong love — she was a force unto herself, determined to make America a safer place for her children and ours. They forged, through painstaking effort, a bipartisan consensus for simple common sense. And they saved lives. Countless lives."
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, also issued a statement, saying that “our nation has lost a tireless advocate for safer communities.”
“We know Sarah will be missed by all those whose lives she touched and who were so inspired by her commitment to her late husband Jim and to the cause of reducing gun violence in our country. Sarah Brady showed us not only what a tireless fight for common sense looks like, but also what it means to be a loving spouse and caretaker in the wake of a senseless tragedy,” the statement read.
"Our nation has lost a great hero, and I have lost a dear friend," Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross said in a statement. "I am certain that she would want nothing more than to know we are carrying on her and Jim’s legacy with the same fiery compassion and dedication that made her so remarkable."
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, known as the Brady Bill or the Brady Law, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It required a five-day waiting period and background checks for handgun purchases.
"There are countless people walking around today who would not be were it not for Sarah Brady’s remarkable resilience, compassion and – what she always said she enjoyed the most – her hard work in the trenches with this organization, which she continued right up to the very end," Gross said.
Sarah Brady is survived by her son James "Scott" Brady, Jr. and her stepdaughter Melissa "Missy" Brady Camins.