John Hinckley, Reagan Shooter, Launches Music Career
John Hinckley, Reagan Shooter, Launches Music Career
April 9, 2022
The problem with a society that ignores history, and lives only in the moment via social media, is that most people under 40 will read this story and think “what’s the big deal?”
Here’s a reminder for those who weren’t alive when this happened, or who ignore history to society’s detriment. In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. John Hinckley got very close to his goal, and he did also wound three other men, including press secretary James Brady. As anyone who knows this story also knows, Brady suffered permanent damage and when he died in 2014 at age 73, his death was officially ruled a homicide.
John Hinckley, for his part, was found not guilty by reason of insanity (the claim was that his obsession with actress Jodie Foster and his inability to get her attention had driven him to attempt to assassinate Reagan) and sent to a psychiatric facility, St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington D.C. In 2016, 35 years after the assassination attempt, John Hinckley was released to his mother’s supervision to live in her gated community. Jo Ann Hinckley died in August 2021, and after her death, John Hinckley petitioned for and was granted an unconditional release in September 2021 – to take effect in June 2022.
Hinckley is now 66 years old and has been living outside a mental health facility for the past several years, a result of a gradual lightening of supervision. His lawyer said the “momentous event” of Hinckley’s full release in June is both appropriate and required by the law.”
“There is no evidence of danger whatsoever,” Barry Wm. Levine said, adding that Hinckley has an “excellent” prognosis.”
Prosecutor Kacie Weston said the Justice Department agreed to a settlement but wanted to monitor Hinckley for the next nine months because of two big changes in his life: He’s living on his own for the first time in about 40 years, and because one of his primary doctors is preparing for retirement and disbanding Hinckley’s therapy group. The Justice Department said it would file a motion with the court before June if it had fresh concerns about Hinckley.”
“Ultimately your honor, at this point, the ball is in Mr. Hinckley’s hands,” Weston said.”
Even for those who believe in second chances, that last statement feels like a very big gamble. But John Hinckley is clearly anticipating his freedom to move around – and since he is supposed to be granted his unconditional release from custody in June, what better time to rebrand and relaunch himself and start his new career. Meet John Hinckley, songwriter and musician.
Songwriter, musician, and planning his first live concert in Brooklyn in July – right after that release comes through.
Big news!! I will be performing on July 8 at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn, NY. Get your tickets while you can.
— John Hinckley (@JohnHinckley20) April 8, 2022
I’m sorry, but should someone with a documented history of mental illness so severe as to cause him to attempt to kill others be performing in front of a live audience?
The show was confirmed in a post on the hotel’s Instagram Stories. A link on the ticket site Venue Pilot offers a ticket price is $20 for the 8 p.m. show.”
It was unclear whether the July gig would be Hinckley’s first-ever live public performance.”
Scenic Presents — a Brooklyn concert promotion company that is handling the show and also tweeted the news — declined a request for comment from The Post, which also reached out to the hotel for a statement.”
In December 2020, Hinckley, now 66, created a YouTube account in an attempt to jump-start a long-simmering dream of working in the music industry. Since then, he has uploaded more than three dozen videos to the account, which has more than 26,000 subscribers. The clips show him strumming a guitar and singing, with a hint of country twang, both reportedly original material — including tunes of hope and love with titles like “May Your Dreams Come True,” “Can’t We Get Along” and “You and I Are Free” — and covers of songs from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley.”
What would John Hinckley have been like if the social media platforms of today existed in the early 1980’s? The examples of obsessed fans pursuing social media stars should tell us that Hinckley’s Jodie Foster obsession would have been filmed for the general public to see, and he would have ended up as the mass shooter that broadcasted his intent to the internet.
Now, the final release conditions have not been made public, but one has to think that some of the same conditions will apply – namely, the lifetime restraining order by Jodie Foster and all members of the Reagan family. The original release conditions didn’t even allow Hinckley to be in the same area as any of them – and what if someone is in New York at the same time? How much of a wide berth should Jodie Foster and her family be allowed to have from John Hinckley? The Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute is still firmly opposed to Hinckley’s unconditional release.
You can believe in forgiveness and second chances without giving someone an opportunity to become famous or the center of attention. John Hinckley has always wanted attention, and in 1981, he was willing to do anything to get it – including attempting to assassinate the president. It is only by the grace of God that Ronald Reagan survived. Yes, it’s been 41 years since the shooting happened. But Hinckley could live a private life – not one where he has a YouTube channel trying to launch a musical career, and planning live concerts. If you look at the comments on the YouTube video above, the majority are supportive. Do people really think that Hinckley’s music, and not his notoriety, is the real draw here?
We have a younger generation addicted to social media and ignorant of history, who are more than happy to give those with mental health issues a whole lot of attention. The court is going to declare John Hinckley unconditionally free in June – and it just feels like too big of a risk to take.
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Featured image: John Hinckley Jr. mugshot from 1981, cropped, public domain image from the FBI
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