Has anyone but John Hinckley gotten away with shooting a president?

Updated September 28, 2021 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

John Hinckley just got done with all of his punishment for trying to assassinate Ronald Reagan. Has anybody else ever got away with trying to kill a president? Obviously Reagan didn't die, but it seems weird.

The Answer:

John Hinckley's case is a bit special, due to the nature of his conviction (or lack thereof). To answer the immediate question, two attempted assassins are currently on parole from life sentences. In the sense that they're on parole, they haven't "gotten away" with it. But, they're not in prison and they haven't been executed. They are Sara Jane Moore and Lynette Fromme; they are the only two women known to have attempted a presidential assassination, both against Gerald Ford and both within three weeks of each other in California in 1975. Moore was a political radical, and Fromme was a member of the infamous Manson Family. They were both paroled after serving at least 30 years on good behavior, as mandated by federal law.

John Hinckley, unlike those two, was found not guilty due to insanity. Hinckley tried to shoot Reagan in imitation of Robert De Niro's character Travis Bickle, from the movieTaxi Driver. He believed that doing so would impress Jodie Foster, who plays a child prostitute in that film. He was confined to a mental hospital for several decades, and monitored by healthcare professionals. The recent development is that he has shown no signs of instability or fascination with weapons in the past four decades, and so he is being released from oversight.

A fun fact about Hinckley's assassination attempt is that he initially planned to assassinate Jimmy Carter, but never had an opportunity.

-The Editors