John Hinckley Jr Fully Free

house arrest

This Week’s Wacky Wednesday: John Hinckley Jr Fully Free

Most people will—or at least should—recognize the name John Hinckley Jr. It was on March 30, 1980, just a few months into Ronald Reagan’s first term, when the President was shot and wounded by Hinckley.

Reagan was heading back to his limousine after he gave a speech at the Hilton in Washington. Others shot during this assassination attempt included James Brady, the press secretary, Tim McCarthy, a secret service agent, and Thomas Delahanty, a D.C. police officer.

All four of the victims survived, but they suffered serious injuries. Reagan almost died in the hospital, Delahanty suffered permanent nerve damage in his left arm, and Brady was partially paralyzed. McCarthy recovered fully.

Why Did Hinckley Try to Kill Reagan?

Strangely, it was not for any sort of political motivation. Instead, it was because of the obsession that Hinckley had with a woman. The woman in question was actress Jodie Foster.

Hinckley suffered from erotomania. This is a delusional belief that you are loved by another person, often a person of higher social status. People who have these types of mental health issues could fixate on anyone. However, it will typically be someone who is an actor, musician, etc. Those with erotomania do not realize they are delusional, and they can become violent. They may be willing to do just about anything—even trying to assassinate a president—to impress the person they love.

The aggressive and risky behavior also often includes stalking. This was the case with Foster, who was just 18 years old at the time this happened. He became obsessed with her from her role in Taxi Driver, where she was just a child. He said that he identified with the protagonist in the movie who was trying to save Foster’s character, a prostitute. Near the end of the movie, the main character tries to assassinate a senator.

The obsession with Foster grew, and Hinckley would follow her around the country. Even also enrolled in a writing class at Yale because he knew she was going to school there. He wrote letters to her and even called her. She showed no interest. He thought that maybe if he elevated his status, he could get her attention.

It was at this time that Hinckley started to stalk then-president Jimmy Carter. He was even arrested at Nashville International Airport for illegal possession of a firearm but was released.  His parents were worried, though, and they had him start seeing a psychiatrist.

When Reagan won the election, Hinckley focused his efforts there. This brought him to Washington D.C. on that March day in 1981.

He was captured at the scene. Rather than going to prison, though, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Many people were unhappy about the use of this defense, and the rules on it have changed in many states since.

How Is Hinckley Getting Out?

Well, if you aren’t someone who has been paying attention to this name, you might not realize that he’s already technically out and has been for some time. In 1999, he was allowed to visit his parents. Slowly, he started to gain other freedoms. In 2016, he was allowed to live with his mother, as long as he abided by the conditions imposed on him by the court. In 2018, he was allowed to move out on his own. However, at that point, he was still being monitored.

In June of 2022, he was entirely free. The court believes that he has been cured and does not pose any threat to society.