by Countable | Updated on 11.29.18
On November 30, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (commonly known as the Brady Bill) into law. It required that background checks be conducted before an individual can buy a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, and prohibited certain persons from shipping or receiving firearms.
On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by a gunman attempting to assassinate the president. While Reagan was seriously wounded, he and the two law enforcement officers who were shot ultimately fully recovered from their injuries.
The fourth person shot was White House Press Secretary James Brady, who suffered brain damage and was permanently disabled by his injuries. His death in 2014 was officially considered to be a homicide because it stemmed from complications caused by his gunshot wounds.
The first version of the Brady Bill was introduced as an amendment to an anti-drug abuse bill in 1988, but it was stripped from the final version of the bill and efforts to pass it were stymied for several years.
On March 28, 1991, almost a decade after he was taken there for life-saving surgery following his attempted assassination, Reagan delivered a speech at George Washington University and endorsed the Brady Bill:
“Speaking of Jim Brady, I want to tell all of you here today something that I’m not sure you know. You know that I’m a member of the NRA, and my position on the right to bear arms is well-known. But I want you to know something else, and I’m going to say it in clear, unmistakable language: I support the Brady Bill and I urge the Congress to enact it.
With the right to bear arms comes a great responsibility: to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases. And it’s just plain common sense that there be a waiting period to allow local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on those who wish to buy a handgun.”
While versions of the Brady Bill passed both the House & Senate in 1991, a compromise couldn’t be reached, and it wasn’t until 1993 with the incoming 103rd Congress and Clinton administration that it regained traction.
The version of the bill that ultimately became law was introduced by then-Rep. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is now serving as the Senate minority leader. It passed Congress with some bipartisan support ― although most Democrats were in favor and most Republicans opposed ― and took effect gradually between 1994 and 1998 (it only applied to handguns until 1998).
The Brady Bill amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to require background checks on purchases of firearms from federally licensed dealers. Assuming no additional state requirements are in place, that means an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check has to be completed and approved before a person can buy a firearm from a dealer. Background checks have to be completed within three days, and if the sale isn’t rejected in that timeframe it can go forward.
The Brady Bill also prohibited individuals from shipping or receiving firearms across state or national borders if they are:
It’s important to note that the Brady Bill doesn’t require background checks for all gun sales. For example, gun sales between private individuals represent about one-fifth of all transactions and aren’t covered (although they may be by state or local law).
Neither are purchases by licensed collectors of Curios & Relics, which are firearms that were made at least 50 years ago, are of museum interest, or are “novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event.”
The Brady Bill was nearly derailed before it could fully take effect because of a Supreme Court ruling in 1997 stemming from a challenge backed by the NRA.
In Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court found the Brady Bill’s requirement that local law enforcement officers conduct background checks violated the Constitution’s 10th Amendment on federalism grounds. However, the rest of the bill was upheld and state and local law enforcement remained free to conduct background checks if they chose to ― the majority of which did.
According to data from USAFacts, a non-partisan civic data initiative, there were more than 277 million background checks carried out on would-be gun purchasers in the U.S. between 1999 and 2017 (with more 1.3 million denials according to the FBI). Since 2009, background checks have exceeded 14 million each year and averaged 20.3 million per year over the 1999-2017 period, per USAFacts.
In recent years, the Brady Bill and the NICS background check system have undergone further reforms:
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: National Archives / Public Domain)
Written by Countable
When bad things happened, it used to be that the parties would come together to solve the problem together. The Brady Bill is a great example of common sense legislation. We need more of it.
I support this bill and think there should be more. To those that will throw up their 2nd amendment drivel I will point out two things: 1. The amendment was added to allow states to form militias to hunt down escaped slaves. It was never about fighting tyrants or protecting a nation. 2. Even ignoring the actual point of the amendment, it still SPECIFICALLY delineates the requirement of regulation. Any laws passed that do not completely take away the right to bear arms (also not defined in the amendment, so feel free to open carry you steal knife) are perfectly Constitutional.
When I go to my local indoor / pistol range to practice, WOMEN CONSISTENTLY OUTNUMBER MEN 2 to 1. It’s encouraging to see so many women taking ownership of their own safety and security. Police can’t be everywhere and the 5 to 7 minute response time is way too late to prevent loss of life in a bad situation. Women are seeing the ugly reality of progressivism. It doesn’t empower women but rather places them at great risk in literally every aspect of their lives.
More gun control for the “Law Abiding Citizens “ and the “Criminals” still get the guns as usual. We need to follow our Constitution and stop tying the hands of the “Law Abiding Citizens” and be tougher on the “Criminals”.
Basic gun safety laws. That’s what we want. RIP To all victims of gun violence.
Cars kill more people every year than guns do. Do we remove cars from society? Of coarse not! The real problem is the individuals view of God and their world view. The more our society moves towards secular progressivism the more gun violence we see. Until our society returns to its original Judeo Christian roots, gun violence will continue to escalate. Removing God from schools and government only leads to more evil in our society.
More needs to be done. Paranoia shouldn’t rule our thinking when we attempt to keep ourselves safe.
Yes at the time this seemed to be the answer to gun control. But look what has happen in the pasted years. This Bill did nothing.
David you are spot on. The libtards however choose to live in a fantasy filled mental Shangrila. In contrast, I am licensed, pay my fees, I’m well trained (by a state licensed law enforcement officer) and as such I carry concealed daily. The reality is police can’t be everywhere. And the 5 to 7 minute response time in the best of circumstances is way too late to intervene and prevent loss of life in a bad situation. And yes as we become an ever more godless nation things are going to get worse. But unlike so many, you and I are prepared to deal with it.
Glad we still require background checks.
Didn’t go far enough.Hand guns are a scourge to our society
So, please tell me again how The Second Amendment isn’t being walked on? What is your definition of “Shall NOT be infringed”??
How stupid do you have to be to not understand that laws do not prevent people from behaving badly they only give law enforcement and the justice system more work, and reduces freedom for people that don't behave badly. This is as much true for any contraband.
The Brady Bill was a good bill but it needs to go farther.We need universal back ground checks, Ban assault weapons, gun sales to people with mental issues, on the no fly list, ban gun sales at gun shows or over the internet without a back ground check. Ban ghost guns & 3 D guns.
Boy, was that ever successful. Handgun violence has dropped to an all-time low. It’s practically nonexistent now that Slick Willy has singlehandedly saved us from all those nasty, wicked, evil criminals. Now, if only we could get Slick Hillary elected president, all our troubles would be over. NOT!!!
We need sensible gun restrictions laws now.
I think it needs to be updated and strengthened! ASAP! TrulyTexan, I love what you wrote to the repugnant, David. Well done!
The Brady bill was an affront to rights protected by the second amendment. It should have never been brought into existence.
Gun control disarms the law-abiding and only the law-abiding, by definition. Self-defense is a basic human right and, clearly, guns are the only reasonable means for the average citizen to exercise that right.
" from my dead hand " … " shall not be abridged ".