Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library

Cook, Philip J and Jens Ludwig. 2013 ‘The Limited Impact of the Brady Act - Introduction of the Brady Act.’ Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis; Part I, Chapter 2, p. 22. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 25 January

Relevant contents

Introduction of the Brady Act

The GCA's requirement was greatly strengthened by subsequent legislation, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, implemented in 1994. The Brady Act required that FFLs conduct a background check on would-be buyers - the buyer's signature on a 4473 was no longer enough. This new regulation was enacted with high hopes of reducing gun violence, despite its limitations.

Most gun crimes are committed with weapons that were not purchased from dealers, but rather acquired through off-the-books transactions. Such transactions are generally permitted and not regulated by the Brady Act. However, some disqualified individuals do attempt to buy guns from FFLs, and the Brady background checks have blocked over 2 million sales since the law was implemented (Bowling et al. 2010).

On March 2, 2000, President Bill Clinton declared at a news conference that "the Brady Bill is saving people's lives and keeping guns out of the wrong hands," a claim justified in part by the substantial number of people who had been denied handguns as a result of the law.(2)

During the first five years of the Brady Act, 312,000 applications to purchase handguns from dealers (2.4% of the total) were denied due to a felony record or other disqualifying characteristic (Bowling et al. 2010). Other would-be buyers with criminal records may have been deterred from even attempting to buy a firearm.

The logic is clear: Since guns are more lethal than knives and other likely substitutes, any reduction in criminal gun use due to Brady would likely translate into a net reduction in homicides (Zimring 1968, 1972)…

[GCA = Gun Control Act of 1968; FFL = Federal Firearms License; 4473 = Form 4473 is for the buyer to state that he or she did not have a felony conviction or other disqualifying condition]

Sources cited:

2) Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 'Saving Lives by Taking Guns Out
of Crime: The Drop in Gun-Related Crime Deaths Since Enactment of the Brady Law,' Executive Summary, downloaded from http://www.bradycenter.org/xshare/Facts/brady‑law‑drop‑in‑crime.pdf

Bowling, Michael, Ronald J. Frandsen, Gene A. Lauver, Allina D. Boutilier, Devon B. Adams. 2010. Background Checks for Firearms: Statistical Tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin NCJ 231679

Zimring, Franklin E. 1968. "Is Gun Control Likely to Reduce Violent Killings?" The University of Chicago Law Review 35: 721–737.

Zimring, Franklin E. 1972. "The Medium is the Message: Firearm Calibre as a Determinant of Death from Assault," Journal of Legal Studies. 1: 97–124.

ID: Q6716

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