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Back in the Day: the madness of the man who shot Reagan

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Back in the Day: the madness of the man who shot Reagan


June 21 1982: John Hinckley Jr, who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan a year earlier is found not guilty of the crime by reason of insanity. Hinckley said he shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he became obsessed after watching the film ‘Taxi Driver’. When Foster enrolled at Yale University, Hinckley followed her there and reportedly began slipping messages and poems under her door and repeatedly phoning her. As his obsession grew, Hinckley decided to catch Foster’s attention by attempting to assassinate the president, which might again be a reference to the film “Taxi Driver”, where Robert De Niro’s character plots to murder a presidential candidate.
Hinckley fired a revolver six times outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. on March 30, 1981 (see picture). He injured several members of the president’s staff, and President Reagan was hit in the chest when a bullet ricocheted off the side of his limousine. At trial, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and was sentenced to psychiatric care. The judgement caused an uproar among the public and led to the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, whereby it became more difficult to obtain a verdict of not guilty only by reason of insanity.

Also on June 21: Germany’s Kiel Canal is officially opened (1895); USA captures Guam from Spain (1898); Columbia Records introduces the long-playing record album (LP) in a public demonstration in New York City (1948)

Born on June 21: Jean-Paul Sartre (1905), Ian McEwan (1948), Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (1982)

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