Did you know that President Ford was the target of not one, but two assassination attempts?!  The first attempt occurred while the President was in Sacramento, California, on this date in 1975.  On his way to meet California Governor Jerry Brown, Ford stopped to shake hands with a crowd that was gathered outside his hotel.  While doing so, Ford came face-to-face with this handgun which is now in the collections of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Colt 1911 model semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol used by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme to try and assassinate President Gerald R. Ford on September 5, 1975, in Sacramento, California. One side of slide marked “Model of 1911 U.S. Army.” Opposite side of slide marked “Colt’s PT.F.A. MFG. Co. / Hartford. CT. U.S.A.” Serial number on the weapon is 94854.
Accession Number: 1989.1055.1; Donor: Gift of U.S. Attorney’s Office, Sacramento, California
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Reporter Tom DeFrank of Newsweek submitted the following pool report about that morning’s events.

Secret Service agents rushing President Gerald Ford towards the California State Capitol following the assassination attempt on the President by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, in Sacramento, California, on September 5, 1975.
A6320-23A / NAID: 7065138
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library 

One of President Ford’s Secret Service agents, Larry Buendorf, ultimately saved President Ford’s life that day by inserting the membrane of skin between the thumb and forefinger between the hammer of the gun and the gun itself.  The perpetrator was Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a member of the infamous Manson family.  She was subsequently arrested and tried for the attempted assassination, in which President Ford provided a taped deposition for the prosecution.  Fromme received a life sentence and, in 2009, was paroled from prison.

After the assassination attempt, President Ford was issued this bulletproof jacket by the Secret Service.  The jacket is on display at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.  Of the protective garment, in 1977 President Ford said when asked about having to wear it: “I would not be honest to say that I took it as a matter of course.  It bothered me and I certainly would have preferred not to do it but I felt it my obligation to do it.”

This bulletproof trench coat was issued to President Ford in October 1975.  Together, the coat and zip-in Kevlar vest weigh over six pounds.
Accession Number: 2005.752.1
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Author: Brooke Clement


  1. Wow, I had no idea that President Ford faced not one, but two assassination attempts! It’s incredible how history can hold such intense moments. The fact that he came face-to-face with a handgun during a public appearance is truly chilling. It’s a testament to the resilience and courage of political leaders who face such risks in the line of duty. I’m curious to learn more about the second attempt now. History is full of surprising and often unknown stories.

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