Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library

Cook, Philip J and Jens Ludwig. 2013 ‘The Limited Impact of the Brady Act: Evaluation and Implications.’ Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis; Part I, Chapter 2, pp. 21-22. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 25 January

Relevant contents

The Limited Impact of the Brady Act: Evaluation and Implications

Federal firearms law divides the population into two groups: those prohibited from legally possessing a firearm due to their criminal record or certain other disqualifying conditions and everyone else.

The vast majority of the adult public is allowed to acquire and possess all the firearms they want, thus preserving the personal right to "keep and bear arms" that has been established by recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings.(1) But that right, like all rights, has limits. People with serious criminal records or severe mental illness may reasonably be deemed at such high risk of misusing firearms that public-safety concerns take precedence over gun rights.

While in practice it is impossible to keep all members of high-risk groups disarmed in a gun-rich environment, a selective prohibition may cause some reduction in gun misuse and save enough lives to be worthwhile.

The effectiveness of this selective-prohibition approach may depend on how it is enforced. The two mechanisms in use to discourage disqualified people from obtaining guns are deterrence through the threat of criminal prosecution ("felon in possession" cases) and regulation of firearms transactions. The current regulatory framework was created by the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), which required that those in the business of selling guns obtain a federal firearms license (FFL) and that interstate shipments of guns be limited to licensees. Anyone purchasing a gun from an FFL is required by the GCA to fill out a form 4473 stating that he or she did not have a felony conviction or other disqualifying condition, although under federal law dealers were not required to verify the information reported by the prospective buyer…

Source cited:

1) District of Columbia v. Heller (554 US 570 (2008)) established a personal right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense purposes. McDonald v. Chicago (561 US 3025 (2010)) extended this right beyond federal jurisdiction to encompass state and local governments.

ID: Q6715

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