Brady Bill: Gun Control Legislation
The Brady Bill, officially known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, is a U.S. federal law enacted in 1993 that established background checks and waiting periods for individuals attempting to purchase firearms, aimed at reducing gun violence.
The bill was named after James Brady, the White House Press Secretary who was shot and severely injured during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. After the shooting, Brady and his wife, Sarah, became prominent advocates for gun control.
The Brady Bill was first introduced to Congress in 1987 but faced significant opposition from gun rights groups, most notably the National Rifle Association (NRA). After several years of debate and revisions, the bill gained momentum following the 1992 election of President Bill Clinton, who was a vocal supporter of gun control measures.
On November 30, 1993, President Clinton signed the Brady Bill into law. The legislation mandated a five-day waiting period and background check for handgun purchases from federally licensed dealers. This waiting period allowed local law enforcement officials time to perform background checks on potential buyers, with the intent to prevent individuals with a criminal history or other disqualifying factors from purchasing firearms.
In 1998, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was implemented, allowing for instant background checks and eliminating the five-day waiting period in most cases. Despite ongoing debates over its effectiveness, the Brady Bill has been credited with preventing thousands of prohibited individuals from obtaining firearms since its enactment.