Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act

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The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act is a piece of gun control legislation which was passed by both the House and Senate and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The bill focused on established federally mandated waiting periods and background checks regarding the purchase of handguns.

Main article: U.S. gun control legislation



The bill is named after President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady. In 1981, Brady was severely injured when he was shot by John Hinckley in an attempt to assassinate Reagan. The bill was championed for over a decade by Brady's wife, Sarah Brady, who became a gun control advocate after her husband was shot.[1]


On November 10, 1993, the bill passed in the House, 238-189.

House record vote:
To pass the Brady bill

November 10, 1993
Passed, 238-189, view details
Dem: 184-69 in favor, GOP: 54-119 opposed, Ind: 0-1 in favor

The Senate followed on November 20, 1993, passing the measure 63-36.

Senate record vote:
To pass the Brady bill

November 20, 1993
Passed, 63-36, view details
Dem: 47-8 in favor, GOP: 17-28 opposed, Ind: 0-0

President Clinton signed the bill on November 30, 1993.[2]


The Act initially required purchasers to wait up to five days for a background check to occur before purchasing a handgun from a federal firearms licensee. If the background check was returned before the five days had elapsed, then the transfer could occur at that time, and if the check had not been completed in five days, then the transfer was allowed to occur. The Act applied only to transfers from a dealer licensed to sell guns by the Treasury Department to a private individual. Sales between private parties could not be covered under the Act because the federal government lacked jurisdiction to restrict intrastate commerce.[3]

Later developments

The provision in the Act that mandated local law enforcement officials to carry out background checks was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 because, the court ruled, it violated the Federalism provisions of the Constitution.[4]

The waiting period provision of the Act expired in 1998 when the NICS (National Instant Check System) came online. The system, managed by the FBI, runs database checks on criminal records. A handgun purchaser may still have to wait for up to three business days if the NICS system fails to positively approve or deny his or her application to purchase a handgun; if the denial is not issued within three days, the transfer may be completed at that time. State alternatives to the background check, such as state-issued handgun permits or mandatory state or local checks, may still bypass the NICS check.. [5]

Articles and resources


  1. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence: Bio of James Brady
  2. Thomas page on the bill
  3. Thomas page on the Brady bill
  4. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence: Brady bill timeline
  5. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence: Brady bill timeline

Wikipedia also has an article on Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.



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