See Attempted Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr. Now at 67

He was just released after serving 40 years for shooting the former president.

It's been 41 years since John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan not long into his first term as president. Now, Hinckley is a free man. On Wednesday, June 15, the 67-year-old was granted unconditional release after spending most of the past 40 years in psychiatric care. In recent years, he gained back certain freedoms but was still under various prohibitions.

In 1981, Hinckley attempted to murder Reagan in the hopes of gaining the attention of actor Jodie Foster, with whom he had an obsession. During the assassination attempt, Hinckley injured Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy. Brady was partially paralyzed and died from his injuries in 2014.

Now that Hinckley is free, he's trying to becoming known for something far different: his music. Read on to find out more.

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Hinckley spent years in a psychiatric hospital.

John Hinckley Jr.'s 1981 mugshot
Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images

Hinckley was found "not guilty by reason of insanity" after his assassination attempt on Reagan. Soon after this verdict was handed down, the process by which a defendant could claim insanity underwent changes. Because of the verdict he received, Hinckley was not imprisoned but instead had to live in a psychiatric ward at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

As the years went on, Hinckley was granted certain freedoms, such as being allowed to visit his parents. In 2016, a federal judge granted him freedom to leave the hospital and go live with his mother, as reported by NPR, because the hospital said he was no longer a danger and that his psychosis and depression were in remission. Hinckley still had to abide by certain restrictions, including not traveling to areas where a president or members of congress were present or contacting Foster, any of his victims, or their families.

He was just fully released.

A portrait of John Hinckley Jr. circa early '80s
Bettmann / Getty Images

On June 15, Hinckley was released unconditionally. NPR reported that the Department for Behavioral Health told the court that Hinckley was "low risk for future violence." When Hinckley was fully released, he tweeted, "After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!"

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He's a musician and artist.

Hinckley is a musician and visual artist, and in 2020, he was granted permission to present his work under his own name, as reported by the AP. His YouTube channel, where he uploads videos of himself singing and playing guitar, currently has 28K followers. In January, he tweeted that he was starting a band and looking for a bass player, drummer, and lead guitarist. In December 2021, he shared on YouTube that he was starting a record label to release his own music and hoped to release other people's music, too.

Hinckley has also posted pictures of his art on social media, as well as links to purchase pieces on eBay.

His upcoming concerts were canceled.

Hinckley had three upcoming concerts booked that ended up being canceled, as reported by The New York Times. The Brooklyn, N.Y. venue Market Hotel released a statement about the cancelation explaining that while Hinckley himself is not viewed as a threat, "It is not worth a gamble on the safety of our vulnerable communities to give a guy a microphone and a paycheck from his art who hasn't had to earn it, who we don't care about on an artistic level, and who upsets people in a dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate." NYT reports that planned shows in Chicago and Connecticut were also canceled.

Hinckley told The New York Times, "I watch the news like everybody else—we're living in very, very scary times, to be honest. I would have only gone on with the show if I was going to feel safe at the show and feel that the audience was going to be safe."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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