Patti Davis writes:
When President Ronald Reagan — my father — was lying in a hospital bed recovering from the gunshots that nearly killed him, he said, “I know my ability to heal depends on my willingness to forgive John Hinckley.” I, too, believe in forgiveness. But forgiving someone in your heart doesn’t mean that you let them loose in Virginia to pursue whatever dark agenda they may still hold dear.
I have no choice but to resign myself to the fact of Hinckley’s release, announced earlier today, but I’m not at all comfortable with the decision. To me, it doesn’t represent justice as much as it does his efforts to methodically wait out and wear down the system. …
But now what he’s been working toward all these years has happened: A man who shot four people, including the President of the United States, will be granted his freedom. He’ll have to check in with his doctors, and he’ll have to live with his now 90-year-old mother — who’ll hardly be able to confine him or cramp his style, given her advanced age. His doctors have said that his psychosis and depression have been in remission for decades, and his narcissistic personality disorder has lessened — but that’s quite a feat, since the disorder has no known cure.
Hinckley is now aged 61. If he has not been “cured” then he is certainly young enough to still cause problems.
To review, while at Saint Elizabeth’s, Hinckley attempted correspondence with mass murderers Ted Bundy and Charles Manson. He’s had girlfriends, most notably Leslie deVeau, who killed her 10-year-old daughter in 1982 with a 12-gauge shotgun while the girl slept, then tried to kill herself but only managed to shoot off her left arm. Mostly, Hinckley’s been patient.
Not exactly reassuring.
Now, though, he’s getting what he’s patiently waited for: freedom. In 1982, when the verdict came down — not guilty by reason of insanity — the nation was shocked. CBS News anchor Dan Rather said on his nightly broadcast, “If John Hinckley has the will and the way, he will probably down the road ask to be released from St. Elizabeth’s on the grounds that he is no longer dangerous. And sooner or later, a panel of experts may nod and say yes.” I remember getting chilled when I heard Rather’s commentary all those years ago. Something in me knew he was right even though everything in me hoped he was wrong. I’m not surprised by this latest development, but my heart is sickened.
Hinckley is the last person to have shot a US President. Other shooters have been:
- John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in 1865
- Charles Guiteau shot James Garfield in 1881
- Leon Czolgosz shot William McKinley in 1901
- John Schrank shot Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 (Roosevelt continued with his speech!)
- Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy in 1963