Hollywood star Beau Bridges has attacked the proliferation of firearms in the United States while praising former White House press secretary James Brady for his battle to impose greater government gun controls.
“Intelligent, courageous and fearless, with a ready wit, Jim Brady was a force for peace and common sense,” wrote Bridges in a commentary for The Washington Post
. “His spirit will endure through his wife, his children and the millions of people he touched.”
Brady, who died Monday at the age of 73, was shot in the head during the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. But he survived and went on to take a leadership role in the fight against the spread of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons.
Ten years after the shooting, Bridges signed up to portray Brady
in the TV movie “Without Warning: The James Brady Story,” a role for which he won an Emmy.
Bridges, who currently stars in the CBS sitcom "The Millers" and Showtime’s "Masters of Sex," first met Brady during research for his role while attending a briefing by then White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, serving President George H.W. Bush.
“Before he fielded his first question, there was an interruption,” wrote the 72-year-old actor. “All members of the press corps rose to their feet as James Brady himself wheeled into the room. That’s how I met the inspiring man they call ‘Bear.’
“In the following months, I spent many hours with Jim, his wife, Sarah, and their son, Scott. This was a very positive, upbeat household, even with all the challenges they faced as Jim continued his long recovery.
“A brain trauma attacks you in a million ways. The fortitude and patience it demands are immense, and yet here was this resilient man, fighting his way back with such good humor and grace.”
Bridges said that Brady and his wife made the shooting tragedy “a catalyst for change” in their lives and launched the group Handgun Control Inc., now called the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
, and helped to prevent 2 million handguns from being purchased since 1994.
In his guest column, Bridges revealed that a man once walked up to him in a restaurant and pointed a gun at his head. Police were called, and after a gunfight the perpetrator was arrested.
“And I’m not the only one,” he wrote. “Four out of seven members of my immediate family have had a loaded firearm pointed at them with bad intentions.
“Although the shooter from my story didn’t pull the trigger, I was close enough to death by gunfire to understand … the need to get guns out of the hands of criminals via background checks and to require those who buy them to learn proper gun safety.”
Bridges said that he eventually joined with Brady in lobbying on Capitol Hill against the sale of semi-automatic weapons, noting that it seemed “a sensible reform, given all the terrible massacres that had occurred at schools and places of business across the country.”
He added, “Why would any civilian want a weapon that sprays bullets at such a rapid rate? Certainly not to use for hunting or target shooting.
“I have no problem with responsible gun ownership. I enjoyed hunting with my grandpa. I learned to respect and care for weapons during my service in the Coast Guard. But the nation we live in has a greater proliferation of firearms than in any other country.”
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