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Gun Control

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act

In 1993, President Clinton singed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, the most significant federal gun law reform in decades.


Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, named after Reagan Press Secretary James Brady, in 1993. In 1981, John Hinkley Jr. shot Brady in the head during his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. The Brady Act created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and requires FFLs to conduct background checks to ensure buyers are eligible to purchase and own a gun. Federal law bars certain groups of people from owning firearms, including those indicted or convicted of a felony, drug users and addicts, the mentally ill, illegal immigrants, dishonorably discharged service members, some domestic violence abusers, and minors, among others. In theory, when those individuals attempt to purchase a firearm, the NICS will flag such cases and prevent them from doing so. However, it is voluntary for states to submit records to NICS, so data is incomplete. Since its implementation, the background checks system has prohibited over three million people from illegally buying a gun.