By Wendell Marsh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Jim Brady, Ronald Reagan's former press secretary, on Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of the presidential assassination attempt that left him in a wheelchair by urging congressmen to toughen gun control.
Thirteen years after the shooting, Brady's and his wife Sarah's advocacy of tightened gun controls resulted in the Brady bill, a law requiring an immediate background check for handgun purchases.
The Bradys say gun control has become more lax in recent years, increasing chances of events like January's mass shooting in Arizona, in which six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was among the 13 wounded.
"I would not be sitting here in this damn wheelchair, if we had common sense legislation," Jim Brady said.
Similar to Giffords, Brady was initially reported to be dead after being shot in the head by a gunman.
Republican Reagan's would-be assassin was determined to be mentally ill, and the mental competency of the suspect in the Giffords shooting is also being questioned.
After a long recovery, Brady still has slurred speech and limited mobility.
His appearance on the Hill on Wednesday was in support of legislation that bans large capacity ammunition magazines and a separate piece of legislation requiring background checks at gun shows.
The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act was introduced within two weeks of the Tucson shooting, during which the gunman used an extended clip.
"The deadly device turns handguns into weapons of mass destruction," sponsor of the Senate version of the bill Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, said at the news conference.
"Huge gun magazines belong on the battlefield, not on our streets."
Although the Brady Bill had wide support in the early 1990s, any legislation updating the law may be difficult to get through the House of Representatives, where Republicans, generally friendlier to gun rights than Democrats, are in the majority.
Acknowledging this reality, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat and sponsor of the house version of the bill, said supporters were using the Bradys' reputation on the Hill to get Republicans on board, which they have failed to do so far.
"When it comes to gun violence, we don't see a bullet judging someone whether they are Republican or Democrat and I know I've got a lot of Republicans that are on the hill that want to support this bill.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)