Twenty years ago this month, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act went into effect, becoming the first federal law to require that licensed gun dealers refer every sale to law enforcement for a background check. But forty percent of today’s gun sales don’t have background checks. Sarah Brady is calling on Congress to finish the job.
In 1981, Jim Brady was shot in the head by John Hinckley, Jr. during an attempt on President Reagan’s life. The shooting left him permanently impaired, both physically and cognitively. The Brady Act was named in his honor.
Since 1994, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, background checks have stopped over two million gun purchases by convicted felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill, and fugitives. But people who wouldn’t pass a background check are now finding it easy to obtain guns through unlicensed sales at gun shows or on the Internet.
While the gun lobby remains vehemently opposed to the expansion of background checks, ninety percent of American citizens support universal background checks covering all sales online and at gun shows. Eighty percent of gun owners and three of four NRA members also support expanded background checks.
It’s well past time for Congress to finish what it started. Let’s continue to keep guns out of dangerous hands.