Another Look at the Brady Law

by Stephen P. Halbrook
Washington Post, Oct. 8, 1994

As counsel for four of the sheriffs who sued the federal government for trying to pull them off street patrol to conduct Brady Act record checks on predominantly law-abiding handgun purchasers, I wish to reply to Richard Aborn’s letter of Sept. 30.

So far, four federal courts have declared the federal command to local law enforcement to be unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment. One court upheld the law, but only because that court interpreted it to mean that record checks are optional.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) press releases about the number of persons initially denied do not reflect that almost all are eventually cleared. As an example, the police chief of Phoenix, Ariz. wrote in “Brady Bill Turndowns for Warrants” for the week of March 28 to April 3: “Most of these warrants were for ‘Failure to Appear’ for various offenses.”

Of 35 denials, all were related to warrants for traffic or misdemeanor offenses, except for four felony cases involving drugs and larceny. One denial was related to “Fishing without License” and another to “Dog License.” Such infractions do not disqualify one from the purchase of a handgun, but apparently these persons were treated as “fugitives from justice” until paying their tickets for speeding and fishing without a license.

The Brady Act and its waiting period do not even apply in half the states, because they have instant checks or other methods. How many women being stalked by dangerous men have been prevented by the Brady Act from purchase of a handgun to protect their lives?