4Richard Lawrence (1801-1861)
Richard Lawrence blazed his own trail as the first person to attempt to kill a U.S. President while being crazier than a bag of agitated cobras injected with some sort of... crazy serum. For cobras.
In his youth Richard lived a quiet life as a painter. Then he quit his job, donned a fancy cape, grew a mustache and told everyone who would listen that he was King Richard the Third of England.
"Hey, guys, I'm King now, okay?"
When folks started to question why a long-deceased British ruler was huffing paint on American soil, Richard gave a simple and logical explanation: the American Government owed him a vast fortune that he couldn't claim the throne without. He hadn't received the fortune because of, you guessed it, President Andrew Jackson. Oh, and he believed that Jackson killed his father in 1832 (truly an impressive feat when you consider Lawrence's father had never been to America and actually died in 1823).
That's right, a man so sinister that he could kill through space and time needed to be stopped, and ol' King Richard had the gumption to do it.
When Jackson attended a funeral in 1835 Lawrence followed, hoping to kill him and presumably tug his mustache and disappear in a cloud of smoke. He approached Jackson from behind, drew a pistol and fired into his back at near point blank range. The gun misfired.
Naturally, being an undead British king warrants carrying two pistols. He quickly drew and fired his second weapon. Same result. By this point others in attendance caught wind of our caped-crusader and wrestled him to the ground. President Jackson served up some justice with his hickory cane before actual legal justice was served. Lawrence was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent the rest of his life in a mental institution.
What Went Wrong:
Lawrence's pistols are believed to have misfired due to high humidity and thus he was thwarted by bad weather. Either this means he brought extra-shitty pistols, or wars back then had to be postponed every time it rained.
On top of that, Jackson was an avid duelist so it can be assumed that he had long conquered his fear of guns, bullets and people firing guns loaded with bullets in his general direction. This is not the type of man you try to assassinate on impulse. Not unless you like the feeling of a hickory cane on your ass.
3John Hinckley Jr. (1955-)
You know that friend who's just really, really into some actress? That weird guy who spends hours in Blockbuster, gently caressing a copy of Speed 2: Cruise Control just to feel closer to Sandra Bullock? Well here's a tip: don't let that guy buy a gun.
That brings us to John Hinckley, Jr., a failed songwriter who must have had a lot of down time because, according to trusted historian Dr. Wik E. Pedia, Hinkley saw the movie Taxi Driver at least fifteen times. The family friendly story of vigilante justice apparently captivated him because of Jodi Foster's role as a 12 year-old prostitute.
When Hinckley learned that Foster was enrolled at Yale in 1980 he moved to Connecticut and enrolled in a writing class there. After numerous attempts to charm her by talking about how he fell in love with her portrayal of a child prostitute, he decided he would have to try something else.
"Yikes. You look so much less 12-years-old in person."
Proving that he totally understands women, Hinkley decided that the best way to impress Foster was by murdering the leader of the free world. It was between that and flowers.
Hinckley first sought to assassinate Jimmy Carter, but got arrested on a firearms charge before he had the chance. Obviously a man of persistence, he waited until March of 1981 and decided to try Ronald Reagan.
Reagan, having just given a speech at the Washington Hilton Hotel in D.C., was returning to his limo when he was greeted by a crowd of public admirers and news cameras (that captured the event in its entirety). At the time he had a whopping 73% approval rating, so it probably came as a shock to him when some dude drew a pistol and fired six rounds in his direction.
What Went Wrong:
In the three seconds it took Hinckley to fire six shots he hit four people, Reagan included. It wasn't a direct hit, however; the bullet ricocheted off the open limo door and grazed the President's side. At the end of the ordeal Hinckley had a kill-to-hit ratio of 1 to 5, but only if you count breaking a window as a kill. No, Hinckley hadn't practiced with the weapon before the event.
What's more embarrassing, however, is that the rounds he used were "Devastators," which were supposed to explode on impact. Of the six bullets not one of them detonated, despite each one striking something. So Hinckley was probably eligible for some kind of refund.
Everyone injured by the attack survived and Hinckley was committed to a mental institution. Jodie Foster became a lesbian, though far be it from us to suggest that she did so mainly in an attempt to avoid the gender that thought six explosive bullets would be a good way to win her heart.