It is a simple matter of fact, beyond dispute, that for years prior to passage of the Brady Act, the organization now known as the Brady Campaign called for a waiting period on handgun sales and vigorously opposed the establishment of the National Instant Check System (NICS). The anti-gun group, when known as Handgun Control, Inc., ranted and raved against instant check legislation proposed by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) in the late 1980s, and by Rep. Harley O. Staggers (D-W. Va.) in 1991.
While NRA strongly opposed the Brady Act because of its five-day waiting period, when Congress passed the Brady Act in 1993, it contained a provision authorizing its waiting period on dealer handgun sales only until a NICS could be established (applicable to all dealer firearm sales). The final bill required that the NICS become operational within five years. As it turned out, Brady’s prized waiting period, which Brady claimed could reduce so-called “crimes of passion” (though by the group’s own admission no data existed to support such a theory) was abolished after only four years and nine months, having taken effect in February 1994, and having been replaced by the NICS in November 1998.
President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Act in November 1993, however, so in November 2008 the Brady Campaign released a 15-year anniversary propaganda paper praising itself and--you guessed it--calling for a federal law prohibiting private sales of firearms, not just those at gun shows, but all private sales. What they don’t say, of course, is that if private sales are prohibited, they will immediately call for the FBI to retain records on all firearm transactions run through the NICS.
The title of Brady’s anniversary propaganda? Get this: “Brady Background Checks: 15 Years of Saving Lives.” Brady checks? These are the same instant checks that Brady has opposed for 20 years, and which have been conducted for the last 10 years, instead of the waiting period that was in place for less than five years before! Barack Obama is not the only one who has “audacity.”
Adding to their lie, Brady claims “the National Rifle Association (NRA) fought long and hard to block Brady background checks.” While NRA opposes waiting periods, it supported NICS, and Brady worked hard to block it. And in the end, NRA’s proposal carried the day.
Adding further to the lie, is Brady’s pretense that the Brady Act is the reason that violent crime has declined in recent years. The Act “has been a resounding success by stopping more than 1.6 million potentially dangerous people from purchasing a gun from a licensed gun dealer,” the group claims.
The reality is something much different. First of all, as the FBI states in its annual national crime report (www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/about/variables_affecting_crime.html), a variety of factors determine the type and volume of crime, and none of these factors is guns, gun ownership, or gun laws. And the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Justice, and others have studied gun control and found no evidence that it reduces crime at home or abroad.
Secondly, the nation’s violent crime rate began declining in 1991, three years before the Brady Act took effect. And violent crime committed with weapons other than guns has declined, as well as violent crime with guns--the only weapons requiring a background check. This is largely due to tougher criminal justice policies imposed in the states during the 1990s, such as mandatory sentencing and reduction of probation and parole of violent criminals--precisely what NRA has advocated for years.
Thirdly, Brady incorrectly assumes that denying gun sales must necessarily decrease crime, because it believes guns are the cause of crime and it opposes the use of guns for defense against crime. However, since 1991, the number of new guns sold to private citizens has increased by 70 million, and total violent crime has decreased 38 percent, including a 43 percent decrease in murder. Let’s not forget also the deterrent factor posed against criminals by the Right-to-Carry laws now in effect in 40 states.
Brady also claims that before the Brady Act, “gun traffickers had it easy” with “new handguns bought easily over-the-counter in states with weak gun laws.” The fact is, however, that prior to the Brady Act, the 18 states and the District of Columbia that already had Brady-like laws delaying the acquisition of firearms--including waiting periods, purchase permit requirements, and license requirements--accounted for 63 percent of the nation’s violent crimes. Therefore, the Brady Act--particularly during the waiting period phase favored by the Brady Campaign--never had an effect on jurisdictions where most violent crimes occur.
Naturally, the media have reported Brady’s claims as gospel. But otherwise, the anniversary propaganda is little more than a pathetic attempt by a decreasingly significant group whose agenda has been rejected time and again, and whose views are ever further removed from the mainstream of public opinion.