Handgun violence is a mounting problem in our country today. Thousands of crimes are committed every year with handguns, and not one government action has succeeded in lowering those numbers. Probably the most controversial government action ever taken on handgun control is the Brady Bill. The Brady Bill was enacted in hopes of denying previously convicted felons from purchasing handguns, thus reducing the national crime rate. The Brady Bill seems as if it is a perfect way to deter handgun availability and crime while in actuality, it has no effect on availability and a negative effect on the national crime rate.
The Brady Bill Has No Effect on Handgun Availability and Crime Handgun violence is a mounting problem in our country today. Thousands of crimes are committed every year with handguns, and not even one government action has succeeded in lowering those numbers. Probably the most controversial government action ever taken on handgun control is the Brad Bill. The Brady Bill was enacted in hopes of denying previously convicted felons from purchasing handguns, thus reducing the national crime rate. The Brady Bill seems a like a perfect was to deter handgun availability and crime while actuality, it has no effect on availability and a negative effect on the national crime rate. In essence, the Brady Bill should be abolished and a new more logical bill should be written.
In 1993 a controversial law was enacted known as the Brady Bill. This particular bill was designed to weed out convicted felons and others who are barred from purchasing handguns. The Brady Bill requires a five-day waiting period before the sale of a handgun. During that time, local authorities are required to make a reasonable effort to find out if the buyer has a felony record, a history of mental illness, drug abuse, or some other problem that would make the sale illegal. The rules of the Brady Bill only apply within those states that do not have an alternate system of background checks, and a waiting period of at least five days. (ATF.treas.com). When a potential handgun buyer is turned down due to a failed background check, local authorities must perform an investigation. This investigation is used to check if the purchaser is wanted for any crime, or has a warrant for arrest. (ATF.treas.com)
According to James Brovard, with the Washington Times, while President Bill Clinton made the Brady Handgun Prevention Act the centerpiece of his re-election campaign in 1996, statistics indicate that the law has not been effective in its stated purpose. Criminologists believe it has had little or no effect on criminals while wasting law enforcement resources. There are also questions about its constitutionality. A recent national survey of police chiefs found that 85 percent believed that the Brady Bill had not prevented any criminal from obtaining a handgun. According to a 1993 survey done by the Justice Department on convicts, most who used handguns in crimes obtained them illegally. In the first fifteen months of the law only three people were incarcerated.
While the law has seemingly been ignored by criminals and unused by federal prosecutors, it has proved an administrative nightmare for local law enforcement. The National Association of Chiefs of Police estimated in late 1993 that it would take ten million hours a year of police time to enforce. The time spent on federally non-funded background checks and other Brady requirements would be taken away from police work. (Dryfus 43).
Also called into question is President Clinton s assertion that 60,000 denied handgun purchases were felons, fugitives, and stalkers. A Government Accounting Office study found the following information in the first 15 months of the enforcement of the Brady Bill:
h Of prospective buyers, 38 percent were refused for administrative reasons (primarily paperwork mistakes).
h Sellers rejected 7.6 percent because of traffic violations.
h They turned down 2 percent for minor drug violations.
h 1.1 percent were rejected because they were illegal aliens or were AWOL from the military. (Foetster 2452).
In fact, only 44.7 percent were rejected as a result of criminal records. The vast majority of this group did not have a history of violence. In Fort Worth, Texas, for example, only 2.3 percent of those refused purchase were violent felons. In Harris County, Texas, it was 3.4 percent. In some jurisdictions, potential buyers have been denied handgun purchases simply because they were arrested for a felony, but not convicted. And in others, people are denied the right to buy a handgun if they were ever arrested for minor drug offenses, but not convicted. (Brovard A2).
Proponents of the Brady Bill claim that criminal background checks kept handguns out of the hands of 100,000 felons. According to the U.S Department of Justice, only seven people who failed the background check were brought to trail, and only three actually served time in prison. That either means the Brady Bill put 99,997 felons back out on the streets to terrorize innocent Americans, or that many of these 100,000 people were actually law-abiding, but due to error identified as felons. (Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party chairman). Either way the Brady Bill is a failure. In fact, the supposed target of the law, those who are criminals, seem to be the only ones not bothered by it. To support this remark, Dasbach pointed out a recent Justice Department survey of convicted felons showing that 93 percent had obtained their handguns illegally. Waiting periods do not deter crime: both pro and ani gun scholars agree on this statement. A U.S. Department of Justice-sponsored survey revealed the facts in this statement: Criminals do not undergo background checks and waiting periods, because handguns are much more readily available on the streets. The big question is what does the waiting period actually prevent? The waiting periods prevent the average person with no felony record from purchasing a handgun without delay, when they are needed for self V protection. (LaPiette 43). The anti-gun media and politicians have made it seem as if the Brady Bill s waiting period will keep handguns totally out of the hands of criminals. The arguments which they make are extremely shallow and fictional. (46). For example, look at the crimes of passion argument, when a normal citizen purchases a gun with the sole intention to kill somebody. This is due to an instant outburst of anger, a person kills another human being with whatever weapon in hand, whether a bat, a knife of even a fork, it is a crime of passion. (47)
Waiting periods, such as the Brady Bill, also pose life-threatening problems as well. The 1991 case of Bonnie Elmasri of Wauwatosa, WI, which inquired about getting a handgun to protect herself from an abusive husband, was told that local officials must perform a background check and wait. The next day the husband killed her and her two sons. President Clinton said recently People are alive today because of the Brady Bill . The evidence suggests that there are far more people dead today because of it, Bonnie Elmasri and her sons (Dasbach). How many more defenseless women and children like Bonnie and her two young sons have to be sacrificed in order to remove the Brady Bill?
As long as the Second Amendment is burned in our constitution and our minds, it is the belief of many that there will forever be a mounting problem in our country known as handgun violence. There is a significant amount of evidence that has proven the effectiveness of the Brady Bill. Sadly enough, that evidence illustrates that the Brady Bill has virtually no effect on the availability or crimes committed with handguns. Our country s leaders need to come to reality and comprehend the truth of the facts: the Brady Bill is obviously ineffective.
Brovard, James Counterfeit Claims for the Brady Bill. Washington Times 9
Oct. 1996: A2+.
Resnick, Art. Implementation of Permanent Provisions of the Brady Handgun
Prevention Act. Online. Internet. 29 Oct. 1998.
LaPeirre, Wayne. Guns, Crime, and Freedom. New York: Regnery, 1994
Anderson, Jack. Inside the NRA. Beverly Hills: Dove Audio, 1996
Dasbach, Steve. Brady Bill. Online. Internet. 13 Feb. 2000
Dryfus, Robert. National Affairs. Rolling Stone Sept. 1999: 43+.
Foester, Karen P. Leaders Quest for Compromise on Gun Control. CQ Weekly
16 Oct. 1999: 2452.