Brady Bill: 29 Years Ago Background Checks Took on a New Meaning
March 31, 2010
Not directly related to the background screening industry, however, this was the biggest background check story of the last century! Twenty-nine years ago today, President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest by a deranged man, John Hinckley Jr.
Reagan was walking out of the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981, when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, began firing at the president and others in his group.
One of the six shots collapsed Reagan’s lung. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head, while Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and D.C. Police Officer Thomas Delahanty were also shot. Reagan, 70, was able to walk into the hospital under his own power and resumed some of his duties the following day after surgery. More
This set off a culmination of events that would later produce what was known as the “Brady Bill.” Also known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, it instituted federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States. According to Wikipedia:
The Brady Act requires that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer – unless an exception applies. If there are no additional state restrictions, a firearm may be transferred to an individual upon approval by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) maintained by the FBI. In some states, proof of a previous background check can be used to bypass the NICS check. For example, a state-issued concealed carry permit usually includes a background check equivalent to the one required by the Act. Other alternatives to the NICS check include state-issued handgun purchase permits or mandatory state or local background checks.
Section 922(g) of the Brady Act prohibits certain persons from shipping or transporting any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce, or receiving any firearm which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or possessing any firearm in or affecting commerce. These prohibitions apply to any person who:
- Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
- Is a fugitive from justice;
- Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
- Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution;
- Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
- Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship;
- Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner, or;
- Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
Section 922(n) of the Act makes it unlawful for any person who is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to ship or transport any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce, or receive any firearm which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
From 1994 through 2008, 1.8 million attempted firearm purchases were blocked by the Brady background check system. For checks done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2008, felons accounted for 56 percent of denials and fugitives from justice accounted for 13 percent of denials. In April 2009, the FBI announced it had completed its 100 millionth NICS approval since its inception 10 years before.
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