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DECEMBER 5, 1998   12:49 PM
CONTACT: Handgun Control
Naomi Paiss of Handgun Control Inc., 800-465-0334 (pager)
Statement of Sarah Brady Re: President's Address and The Instant-Check System
WASHINGTON - December 5 - "The President’s response to last Monday’s establishment of the Instant-Check system demonstrates his concern for public safety.  While the Instant-Check system for gun-buyers has some positive features, most notably the extension of the background check system to purchasers of long guns, it removes some of the safeguards which have made the Brady Law a success.

The most important of those safeguards is the waiting period for gun purchases, which has now disappeared in the 24 "Brady" states.  In those states, as well in the states which have their own Instant-Check systems, purchasers will be able to walk out of gun stores with new guns as soon as they have cleared the FBI’s national database.  Because the FBI does not have access to many local records, including vital categories like domestic-violence restraining orders and mental health, some prohibited purchasers will be getting guns.  And because the purchase is instant, people who are looking to commit crimes of passion or impulse suicides now have no barrier to almost-instantaneous violence.

What is particularly troublesome, however, is the National Rifle Association’s newfound opposition to the system it insisted on creating. On Tuesday, the NRA filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, whose Instant-Check system will retain the records of gun purchases for some months.  Never mind that those records are critical for evaluation of the system – and never mind that new research demonstrates that a very high percentage of legally-bought guns are getting into the criminal market very quickly after purchase.  Despite the reasonable concern for thoroughness and public safety that underlies the temporary retention of Brady records, the NRA is more concerned about placating hard-line gunowners who object to any record at all of their transactions.

Additionally, the NRA is now objecting to the inclusion of long guns in the background check system – despite their original support of that clause.  In 1997, at least 10% of felony-murders, more than 9% of robbery-murders, and more than 10% of other murders that were committed with a firearm were committed with a long gun.  The same year, 29% of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty were killed with a long gun – and statistics also show that long-gun ammunition is much more likely to penetrate the body armor of police officers.  Although handguns are more likely to be used in criminal violence, there is no reason convicted felons, wife-abusers and the dangerously mentally-ill should be purchasing rifles and shotguns.  Let us also not forget that the long gun category includes banned assault-weapons manufactured before 1994, including UZIs, AK-47s and AR-15s.

When we passed the Brady Law five years ago, it was with the overwhelming support of the American people. President Clinton’s determination to fix the Instant-Check system, and to make it the best possible system for keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them, deserves just as much support."

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Handgun Control, Inc., chaired by Sarah Brady, is the nation’s largest citizens’ gun control lobbying organization. Based in Washington, DC, HCI works to enact stronger federal, state and local gun control laws, but does not seek to ban handguns.  Founded in 1974, HCI has more than 400,000 members nationwide and works with local groups around the country to enact and protect reasonable gun control laws



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