John Hinckley gains full freedom 41 years after Ronald Reagan assassination attempt

John Hinckley, who shot and wounded US president Ronald Reagan in 1981, has been freed from court oversight, officially concluding decades of supervision by legal and mental health professionals.

“After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!,” he wrote on Twitter shortly after noon on Wednesday.

The lifting of all restrictions had been expected since late September. US district court judge Paul L Friedman in Washington had said he would free Hinckley on 15 June if he continued to remain mentally stable in the community in Virginia where he has lived since 2016.

Hinckley, who was acquitted of trying to kill the then US president by reason of insanity, spent the decades before that in a Washington mental hospital.

Hinckley has gained nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter and YouTube in recent months as the judge loosened Hinckley’s restrictions before fully lifting all of them.

But the greying 67-year-old is far from being the household name that he became after shooting and wounding the 40th US president and several others outside a Washington hotel.

Today, historians say Hinckley is at best a question on a quiz show and someone who unintentionally helped build the Reagan legend and inspire a push for stricter gun control.

“If Hinckley had succeeded in killing Reagan, then he would have been a pivotal historical figure,” HW Brands, a historian and Reagan biographer, wrote in an email to the Associated Press. “As it is, 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 that Hinckley “would be maybe a Jeopardy question”. But his impact remains tangible in Reagan’s legacy.

“For the president himself to have been so seriously wounded, and to come back from that that actually made Ronald Reagan the legend that he became ... like the movie hero that he was,” Perry said.

Reagan showed grace and humor in the face of death, Perry said. After being shot, the president told emergency room doctors that he hoped they were all Republicans. He later joked to his wife Nancy that he was sorry he “forgot to duck”.