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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 7/3/2001 7:00:01 PM EST
The New York Times July 3, 2001 Fulfilling the Brady Act's Promise Editorial This week the Brady Act, which requires background checks for gun buyers, received its most comprehensive report card to date. A study by the Justice Department shows that background checks by the F.B.I., as well as by state and local agencies, have barred criminals from acquiring guns hundreds of thousands of times. Praise for the law's performance — tempered by a proposal that would weaken it — came from none other than Attorney General John Ashcroft, who as a senator had long received campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association in appreciation of his stance against gun control. But truly clamping down on gun crime would require more legislative action. The permanent version of the Brady Act, which mandates background checks before purchases of handguns and long guns from federally licensed dealers, took effect on Nov. 30, 1998. Since then, background checks have tripled nationwide. Of the more than 16 million checks triggered by prospective gun buyers in 1999 and 2000, 357,000 resulted in rejections — two-thirds of those because of indictments or convictions for felonies. The Brady Act has also aided police in tracking criminals who use false identities and in fighting crime after the fact. The Justice Department's study includes results from half a dozen states that use the background checks to find suspects on outstanding warrants. Virginia led with 775 arrests last year, a whopping 30 percent of the state's 2,568 rejections. Mr. Ashcroft has vowed that federal prosecutors would reinforce this practice by arresting people who act illegally by trying to buy guns. Despite praising the impact of the law, Mr. Ashcroft has proposed disabling this powerful crime-fighting tool by deleting the information generated by background checks from national databases after one business day rather than the current 90 days. He claims that the longer period somehow impinges on privacy, yet there are no such strict limits on how long other agencies and organizations — including the Internal Revenue Service, the Census Bureau, registries of motor vehicles or even private credit-rating firms — may hold onto similar, voluntarily provided information. In its current form, the Brady Act seeks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, leading to less crime, the law's backers hope, and fewer guns in households. But looking at the data from 1999 and 2000 separately reveals a possibly troubling undercurrent. Applications to buy guns from federally licensed dealers fell by 11 percent from one year to the next, but the number of applications rejected after background checks fell even faster, by 25 percent, and the percentage of those rejections that were based on felonies shrank by 23 percent.
Link Posted: 7/3/2001 7:01:11 PM EST
A benign interpretation of these trends would be that fewer people felt the need to obtain guns as victimization by violent crime posted a record decline across the nation, and that criminals were deterred from applying for guns through registered dealers lest they be caught up in the background checks mandated by the Brady law. But there is a more sinister interpretation as well: criminals may be finding new ways to buy guns. Indeed, an estimated 20 to 40 percent of guns are sold legally without background checks, at gun shows and other events not covered by the Brady law. Whether bought at a specialty store or a trade fair, a gun is still a deadly weapon. Congress clearly needs to close this loophole in order to maintain the Brady Act's long-term benefits. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/03/opinion/03TUE2.html
Link Posted: 7/3/2001 7:40:22 PM EST
Leave it to the NYTimes to suggest the proper path is to get the government's mits into gun shows. The NRA showed evidence from the justice department that only 1.5% of crimes committed with firearms involved guns purchased at gun shows. Even though I think background checks is just another step towards registration, I don't care if the government keeps doing it. What is more important to me, is that they repeal the stupid 1994 assault weapons ban, so I and everyone else can get flash suppressors and high capacity magazines. Hell, repeal the 1986 machine gun act to. Background checks are fine with me, but let's lift these damned gun bans. themao [chainsawkill]
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