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Brady: Killings illustrate need for gun laws
By John Carpenter | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:16 PM

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Originally published Jan. 28, 1993

Brown's Chicken in Palatine, like Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, has become part of the battle cry for Jim Brady, one of America's most outspoken advocates of handgun control.

"This has got to stop," said Brady - who will appear in Arlington Heights this evening - in a telephone interview from Washington Wednesday. "I have no idea who or what committed this crime. But when are we going to do something about this?"

Brady, former press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, was shot in the head at point-blank range when would-be assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. wounded Reagan on March 30, 1981. Since then, Brady and his wife Sarah have led the fight to pass legislation tightening gun control. The so-called "Brady Bill" would require a national waiting period and background check on all handgun purchasers.

Although Brady is in Arlington Heights on behalf of the National Organization on Disability, which is honoring the village for its efforts to increase access to communty activities for disabled persons, he expects to field questions and beat the drum for his other pet group, Handgun Control Inc.

"I'm sure it will come up," he said of the seven people murdered at the now-famous fast-food eatery in nearby Palatine. "But you know, this is not the right way to get support for your organization."

Police sources say the Palatine killings were committed with one or more .38-caliber handguns. In the Kileen, Texas incident in 1991, George Hennard rammed his truck through the front window of Luby's Cafeteria and then opened fire, killing 23 people before turning the gun on himself.

Such cases, Brady said, underscore the importance of ensuring that certain people aren't allowed to buy guns.

He added that he expects to talk to Palatine Village President Rita Mullins while he is here. Mullins has taken up the call for tougher gun control laws in the wake of the Palatine killings.

"We are very pleased that she is coming out in support of the Brady Bill," Brady said. "I think she should be commended for standing up and saying what she thinks about this."

Brady, a University of Illinois graduate who lived in Chicago for several years during the 1960s and early 70s, said he is well aware of the Republican leanings of the Northwest suburbs. But the stereotype that Republicans are strictly opposed to gun control should not deter Mullins in her efforts, he said.

"The polls I see say that 95 percent of the men, women and children in America are very supportive of tougher gun control laws," Brady said. "In 1990 handguns were used to kill 10,567 people in the United States and 68 people in Canada. Does that say we are blood-thirsty people? I don't think so. I believe it says there are too many guns out there and they are getting into the hands of the wrong people."

Mullins, meanwhile, says she has received more letters of support than of opposition to her stance on the Brady Bill. And she said even gun owners should support what she says is simply an effort to get guns out of the hands of "the bad people."