She was born Sarah Jane Kemp in Kirksville, Missouri to L. Stanley Kemp, a high school teacher and later FBI agent, and Frances (née Stufflebean) Kemp, a former teacher and homemaker. She had a younger brother, Bill. She was raised in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated in 1959 from Francis C. Hammond High School in Alexandria.
She graduated from the College of William & Mary in 1964. From 1964 to 1968 she was a public school teacher in Virginia. She married James Brady in Alexandria on July 21, 1973. On December 29, 1978, their only child, James, Jr., was born.
From 1968 to 1970 she worked as assistant to the campaign director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. She then worked as an administrative aide, first for Mike McKevitt (R-CO) and then for Joseph J. Maraziti (R-NJ). From 1974 to 1978, she worked as director of administration and coordinator of field services for the Republican National Committee.
Her husband sustained a permanently disabling head wound during the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, which occurred on March 30, 1981. James Brady remained as Press Secretary for the remainder of Reagan's administration, primarily in a titular role.
Alongside her husband, Sarah Brady became "one of the nation's leading crusaders for gun control". They later became active in the lobbying organization Handgun Control, Inc. that would eventually be renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
James Brady died at the age of 73 on August 4, 2014. Sarah Brady died at the age of 73 less than a year later, on April 3, 2015, in a retirement community in Alexandria, Virginia, from pneumonia.
In 2002, Sarah Brady and Merrill McLoughlin wrote A Good Fight, published by Public Affairs. The book is about her entire life, including her battle with lung cancer. According to Library Journal, it is more about her personal battles and her determination and courage than about gun control.
In April 2002, Court TV announced a planned television movie adaptation of the book, to be produced in conjunction with Hearst Entertainment. At the book's launch, Bill Clinton praised her for having "given the gift of life to countless thousands and thousands of Americans".
According to Publishers Weekly it gives an "intimate" look at her public and personal life, including a "detailed, suspenseful account" of the efforts to pass the Brady Bill.
Kirkus Reviews called it "spirited", "cheerful and even homey", portraying Brady as a "scrapper" who never gives up, despite her husband's injury, her son's medical problems, and her own battle with lung cancer, caused by her heavy smoking.
The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, said it left unanswered questions, being almost silent on the topic of firearms, and said that it made unsupported claims about how many Americans agree with her campaign.
- Jon Thurber (April 3, 2015). "Sarah Brady, longtime advocate for gun control, dies at 73". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
- Brady, Sarah; Merrill McLoughlin (2002). A Good Fight. USA: Public Affairs. ISBN 1-58648-105-3. pg 17.
- "Read about Sarah Brady". Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- Jon Thurber (3 April 2015). "Sarah Brady, longtime advocate for gun control, dies at 73". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
- Brady, p. 36
- Brady, p. 42
- Scott Simon (March 26, 2011). "Jim Brady, 30 Years Later (radio interview)". NPR Radio. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Carter, Gregg Lee (2002). Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 78. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "The Undefeated". People Magazine 57 (12). April 1, 2002.
- "About the Brady Campaign: A History of Working to Prevent Gun ownership". Bradycampaign.org. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
- "Sarah and Jim Brady's Tests of Love". ABC 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- Burger, Timothy J. (March 22, 2002). "Control backer got son rifle". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "National Winners". Jefferson Awards for Public Service. 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
- Merica, Dan (August 5, 2014). "James Brady, former Reagan press secretary and gun-control advocate, dies". CNN. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Stack, Liam (April 4, 2015). "Sarah Brady, Gun Control Activist, Is Dead at 73". The New York Times. p. D8.
- "A Good Fight (Book)". Library Journal (Public Affairs) 127 (8). May 1, 2002.
- Archerd, Army (April 10, 2002). "Just for Variety". Variety: 6.
- "Clinton praises Brady for her gun-control work". Deseret News. March 28, 2002. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "Non-fiction Review: A Good Fight". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "A Good Fight (Review)". Kirkus Reviews. February 1, 2002.
- Lehrer, Eli (July 1–8, 2002). "A Good Fight (Review)". The Weekly Standard 7 (41): 43–43.
- Sarah Brady at the Internet Movie Database
- Booknotes interview with Brady on A Good Fight, May 5, 2002.