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Understanding Brady Bill Criticisms

Brady Bill Criticisms

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, also known as , has drawn a great deal of criticism on a variety of fronts. The bill was originally proposed in Congress in 1987. Anti gun forces, lead by the were able to arouse a successful campaign which resulted in the bill being defeated in committee. Their gun rights argument cost them millions of dollars to present to the public and to the individual members of Congress.

By the time law makers were able to reach a consensus and pass the bill in 1993, gun rights advocates had been able to wring one important concession from lawmakers. In 1998 the mandatory five day waiting period would cease to be a component of the bill. Instead the coalition, which saw the bill as anti gun, convinced law makers to create a federal system of instant computerized background checks.

Immediately after the signing of the bill, the NRA commenced a public relations campaign to paint the bill as anti gun, as well as unconstitutional and a violation of the gun rights of every American. The NRA supported lawsuits filed in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming. These states could hardly be construed as being anti gun, and as such it was believed that arguments appealing to gun rights would be especially appealing and have a higher chance of success.

The gun rights lobby sought to have the Brady Bill declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court eventually took up the case in Printz versus United States. The NRA led the effort to paint what they considered to be anti gun legislature as a violation of the Tenth Amendment because it was a federal statute forcing state and local governments to take action and conduct background tests. Under a precedence established five years earlier, the court ruled that states can not be forced to do anything due to federal laws, except under very specific circumstances.

The court found that the Brady Bill did not meet those standards. The Amicus Curiae brief, or Friend of the Court brief, filed by the NRA argued because the bill compelled action by state officials, the entire statute must be invalidated. When deciding the case in 1997 the Court quieted the substance of the gun rights objections. While it agreed it was unconstitutional to compel action by local officials, officials were able to do so if they so chose. These objections became less relevant once the federal background checks went into effect.

After the Supreme Court ruling, claims that the bill was anti gun faded among the gun rights movement. Gun rights arguments have been more focused on painting individual state ordinances as anti gun, as well as preventing other bills from being passed. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act has not received much attention in recent years.

NEXT: What Is The Brady Campaign

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