Reagan press secretary, gun control activist James Brady dies

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Former White House press secretary James Brady, whose name became synonymous with gun control after he was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, died Monday at the age of 73.

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Brady's family confirmed the death in a statement to reporters. They hailed his effort to combat gun violence and his work with people with disabilities. 

"We are enormously proud of Jim's remarkable accomplishments — before he was shot on the fateful day in 1981 while serving at the side of President Ronald Reagan and in the days, months and years that followed," the family said. "Jim Brady's zest for life was apparent to all who knew him and despite his injuries and the pain he endured every day, he used his humor, wit and charm to bring smiles to others and make the world a better place." 

In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which mandated background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases. It went into effect a year later.

Brady was shot in the head a little less than three months after taking the job as press secretary under Reagan, leaving him partially paralyzed for life, according to the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. 

His wife, Sarah, continues to sit on the board of the gun control group named after Brady. The group was active in the debate over gun control last year following the December 2012 shootings of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn.

Former President Bill Clinton renamed the White House briefing room after Brady in 2000. 

"[This Congress] produced the Brady bill, now the Brady law," Clinton said during his State of the Union address in 1994. "And thank you, Jim Brady, for being here, and God bless you, sir." 

President Obama called Brady a legend, saying,"an untold number of people are alive today who otherwise wouldn't be, thanks to Jim."
 
In offering condolences, Obama pointed to the plaque in the White House briefing room dedicated to Brady that reads, "May his courage and dedication continue to inspire all who work in this room and beyond."
 
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he was "saddened," when he learned of Brady's failing health and hailed the former spokesman as "someone who, I think, really revolutionized this job."

Earnest said Brady was "somebody who showed his patriotism and commitment to the country" by being outspoken on the issue of gun control following his wounding in the assassination attempt and said he and future press secretaries would "aspire to live up to" his legacy.

Brady Campaign president Dan Gross said Brady and his wife worked tirelessly to pass the legislation that bears his name. 
 
"As a result, countless lives have been saved. In fact, there are few Americans in history who are as directly responsible for saving as many lives as Jim," he said in a statement. 
 
He continued: "Jim will always remain one of our greatest inspirations as this organization continues to lead the fight for a safer America.”
 
Justin Sink contributed to this story.
 
This story was last updated at 4:31 p.m.

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