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March 30, 2009

Lest We Forget

My dear friends Jim and Sarah Brady have issued a call for Americans across the country to join them on Monday, March 30, at noon for a National Day of Prayer to End Gun Violence. They are asking for prayers “for a peaceable society where all children have the opportunity to grow and prosper, and where everyone can live without fear of being cut down by firearm violence.” 280 people are shot every day in the United States.

This day is of special significance as it is the day that Jim was wounded in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and it leads us into a month of anniversaries of gun violence that are all too familiar: April 4—Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated; April 16—Virginia Tech tragedy; and April 20—shooting at Columbine High School. Because every day in America brings new tragedies, we must now, sadly, add another to this list: March 29—Massacre at nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina.

President Reagan’s experience with gun violence, while horrifying, was far from unique. In the brief history of our nation, we have had 44 Presidents. Four of them were assassinated with guns while in office; six others were the victims of attempted assassinations:

Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed on April 14, 1865.

James A. Garfield was shot and killed on July 2, 1881.

William McKinley was shot and killed on Sept. 6, 1901.

John F. Kennedy was shot and killed on Nov 22, 1963.

Ronald Reagan was shot and severely wounded on March 31, 1981.

Andrew Jackson was shot at in the Capitol building on January 30, 1835, but avoided injury.

Theodore Roosevelt was shot in 1912 while campaigning for president.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was shot at on February 15, 1933, in Miami, Florida, just three weeks before his inauguration.

Assassins attempted to shoot and kill Harry Truman on November 1, 1950 but were stopped in a gunfight outside the Blair House.

Not one, but two, disturbed individuals attempted to shoot and kill Gerald Ford during his brief time as president.

As Sarah Brady has said in issuing the call for a Day of Prayer: “In this new day of hope and optimism, let us acknowledge our individual and collective power to create change through prayer.” Let us all do our part at noon today, as we envision a better future for America, “a future where criminals and dangerous individuals attempt to obtain guns and find it difficult or impossible to do so.”

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