NORFOLK, Va. ( Associated Press) — John Hinckley Jr., who shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was freed from court surveillance on Wednesday, officially ending decades of supervision by legal and mental health professionals .
“After 41 Years 2 Months & 15 Days, Azadi Last!!!,” he wrote on Twitter shortly after 12 noon
All restrictions were expected to be lifted by the end of September. US District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said he would free Hinckley on June 15 if he continues to remain mentally stable in the community in Virginia, where he has lived since 2016.
Hinckley, who was acquitted of insanity, had previously spent decades in a Washington mental hospital.
Freedom for Hinckley will include giving a concert—he plays guitar and sings—in Brooklyn, New York, which is scheduled for July. He has garnered nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter and YouTube in recent months as a judge loosened Hinckley’s restrictions before completely removing them all.
But the 67-year-old gray is far from the household name he became after shooting and injuring the 40th US president – and several others – outside a hotel in Washington. Today, historians say that Hinkley is the best question on the quiz show and someone who inadvertently helped create the Reagan legend and sparked a push for stricter gun control.
“If Hinkley had succeeded in killing Reagan, he would have been an important historical figure,” historian and Reagan biographer HW Brands wrote in an email to the Associated Press. “Anyway, he is a misguided soul whom history has already forgotten.”
Barbara A. Perry, a professor and director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said Hinkley “will probably be a dangerous question.”
But his influence in Reagan’s legacy remains tangible.
Perry said, “For the president himself to be so seriously injured, and to come back from him – that really made Ronald Reagan the legend he became … the kind of movie hero he was.”
Federal Judge Friedman, who oversaw Hinckley’s case, said on June 1 that Hinckley had shown no signs of active mental illness since the mid-1980s and had shown no violent behavior or interest in weapons.
“I am confident that Mr. Hinkley will do well for the rest of his years,” the judge said during a hearing earlier this month.
He said the government and Hinckley’s lawyers have fought for years over whether Hinckley should be given a greater degree of freedom.
“It took us a long time to get here,” he said, adding that there is now unanimous agreement: “It is time for John Hinckley to move on with his life, so we will.”