March 30, 1981 was a routine day for Judy Woodruff as she traveled with the press pool to cover a speech by President Ronald Reagan, two months into his presidency, at the Washington Hilton.
But the events Woodruff witnessed as an NBC reporter that day more than 32 years ago would lead to one of America’s longstanding and contentious policy debates — how much should the country regulate firearms.
Woodruff, now a senior correspondent for the NewsHour, shared what she remembers from the 1981 shooting in a newsroom interview with political editor Christina Bellantoni.
Reagan survived a bullet to the chest, while press secretary Jim Brady was permanently disabled and paralyzed after being shot in the head. Brady and his wife Sarah would become ardent supporters of gun control battling against the efforts of groups who wanted to protect rights granted under the Second Amendment. In the wake of recent mass shootings across the country, that argument has been renewed.
Woodruff’s recent report on the defeat of a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on firearms sales shows the evolution of this fierce policy debate over guns in America.
Follow our coverage of the debate here.
Joshua Barajas shot and edited this video.