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August 6, 1998: Expaanding The Brady Law

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The real measure of our progress, of course, is more than the decline in crime. It is whether families feel secure in their homes and their neighborhoods; whether a child feels safe in the classroom and the schoolyard; whether the American people, in big cities or small towns, feel the full measure of their freedom. That, at heart, is what the Brady Law has helped accomplish, and that is the vision to which we must all remain true if we are to build a safer, stronger America for the 21st century.

President Bill Clinton
August 6, 1998

Today, at a Rose Garden event, President Clinton will challenge Congress to make permanent the Brady Law's waiting period of up to 5 days before the purchase of a handgun and announce his opposition to Congressional efforts to undermine final implementation of the Brady Law.

Making The Brady Waiting Period Permanent For Handgun Sales. One of the essential features of the Brady Law is the waiting period of up to five days before a handgun can be purchased and taken home. President Clinton firmly believes in:

  • Preserving the Brady Law As A Law Enforcement Tool. The Brady Law gives local law enforcement 5 days to block the sale of a handgun to an ineligible purchaser, but this provision will be replaced when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) takes effect on November 30, 1998. While NICS will allow access to even more important records --and stop even more ineligible purchasers from buying firearms --a permanent waiting period will preserve local law enforcement's ability to be the last, best line of defense against illegal handgun purchases.

Calling on Congress To Beat The Deadline. President Clinton is challenging Congress to extend the Brady waiting period for handguns before it expires on November 30th. He supports legislation introduced by Representative Schumer and Senator Durbin that, in states without permit or background check systems, will: (1) require a minimum 3-day waiting period for all handgun purchases; (2) add up to an additional two days to the waiting period if law enforcement officers need more time to clarify arrest records; and (3) require gun dealers to notify local law enforcement officials of all proposed handgun purchases, as they must now do, but under current law need not once the NICS goes into effect.

Defending The Brady Law. Since its inception, the Brady Law has been an invaluable tool in preventing handguns from getting into the hands of people who should not have them. Since taking effect in 1994, the Brady Law has prevented an estimated 242,000 felons, fugitives, and other prohibited purchasers from buying handguns. In 1997 alone, 69,000 prohibited handgun purchases were blocked as a result of Brady background checks. The President will continue his efforts to:

  • Expand the Brady Law's Reach. Under the Brady Law, the NICS will take effect on November 30, 1998, and will require the FBI and designated state law enforcement officials to conduct computerized checks of all prospective gun purchasers --not just handguns --and make even more important records available to law enforcement. After nearly 5 years of working with law enforcement to develop the NICS, the Justice Department plans to propose a regulation to finalize its implementation next week;
  • Fight Efforts To Undermine Brady. A recent amendment to the Senate Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill would undermine implementation of the NICS. Among other things, the amendment would prohibit the FBI from charging gun dealers a fee for background checks, even though the FBI currently charges school districts, day care providers, and many others for similar background checks. Without the resources generated by such a user fee, the FBI will either have to forego processing millions of background checks, or will have to transfer resources from other crime fighting efforts. The Administration strongly opposes this anti-Brady amendment.

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