Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr. Is Free ‘at Last’ and Going on Tour

Hinckley is already making the most of his freedom, actively posting on social media and booking concerts.

Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr. Is Free ‘at Last’ and Going on Tour
Photo:Bureau of Prisons/Getty, @JohnHinckley20/Twitter

John Hinckley Jr., who shot then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981, is officially a free man.

After the assassination attempt, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to spend several decades in psychiatric care. He was released with some restrictions in 2016, and, in accordance with a judge’s order, those restrictions were lifted on Wednesday. (Hinckley’s motives were apolitical: He hoped to gain notoriety in order to impress Jodie Foster, whom he was stalking at the time.)

In a tweet on Wednesday, Hinckley wrote, “After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!” and got more than 30,000 likes.

Hinckley has become a fairly prolific tweeter—as well as a painter and a musician who sold out a Brooklyn venue earlier this month. He had promised to play 17 songs—“all originals”—at the Market Hotel show on July 8, but the venue canceled the concert on Wednesday, citing concerns over a “dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate.” It was meant to be part of his self-styled “redemption tour.”

His latest original single, “Vagabonds,” came out in April. Around the same time, he announced a July 16 show in Hamden, Connecticut, which doesn’t appear to have been canceled. (Yet.) However, a Chicago show scheduled for July 23 has been called off, according to its Eventbrite page.

If you can believe it, not everyone is enthused about Hinckley’s full release. In 2016, when Hinckley was released from psychiatric care, Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis wrote that she “believe[s] in forgiveness,” but “forgiving someone in your heart doesn’t mean that you let them loose in Virginia to pursue whatever dark agendas they may still hold dear.”

It’s unlikely that much of Hinckley’s following is particularly interested in his art, though, given that a generation of social media users has dubbed Reagan’s grave a “gender-neutral bathroom,” and EDM remixes sampling the announcement of his 2004 death regularly go viral.

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