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Sarah Brady, Gun Control Activist, Widow Of James Brady, Dies

Sarah Brady, wife of James Brady, the White House press secretary who was seriously injured in the 1981 assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan, died on Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite
Sarah Brady, wife of James Brady, the White House press secretary who was seriously injured in the 1981 assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan, died on Friday.

Sarah Brady, one of the country's most influential gun control activists, died of pneumonia on Friday. She was 73.

"In the history of our nation, there are few people, if any, who are directly responsible for saving as many lives as Sarah and Jim," Brady Campaign and Center President Dan Gross said in a statement.

Brady became a gun control activist after her husband, White House press secretary James Brady, was shot in the head during an assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

James Brady died in August of last year.

The Brady Campaign says the legislation Sarah Brady championed after James Brady's shooting has prevented the sale of more than 2.4 million firearms "to criminals and other dangerous people."

At the 1996 Democratic convention in Chicago, Sarah Brady was invited to speak because in the preceding term President Bill Clinton had signed the Brady bill. Brady called that moment "the proudest moment of our lives," but she also called for continued work on gun control.

"This battle is not about guns; it's about families, it's about children, it's about our future," Brady said. "You can't have stronger families without safer children. The gun lobby likes to say that Jim and I are trying to take guns away from hunters and sportsmen. The gun lobby is wrong. To the hunters and sportsmen of America we say, keep your guns. But just give us the laws that we need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and out of the hands of children."

In 2013, NPR's Scott Simon spoke to Brady just as Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly were trying to revive legislation for more stringent gun control.

Scott asked her what advice she would give Giffords.

"The big thing is not to give up," she said.

Brady is survived by her and Jim's son, James "Scott" Brady Jr., and by her stepdaughter, Melissa "Missy" Brady Camins.

Update at 7:45 p.m. ET. Bonded For Life:

Former first lady Nancy Reagan issued the following statement about Sarah Brady:

"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my dear friend, Sarah Brady. Just over 34 years ago, we shared an experience that bonded us for life, as we comforted each other in a tiny, windowless office at the George Washington University Hospital Emergency Room, while awaiting word about whether our husbands would survive the horrific gunshots that had brought them there. Sarah and Jim's path from that day on was, of course, much more difficult than Ronnie's and mine, but Sarah never complained. Over the years, I found her to be a woman of immense courage, strength and optimism. I will miss Sarah very much, but take comfort in knowing that she joined Jim on Good Friday and is now at peace."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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