Brady Campaign releases a report analyzing 20 years of effective background checks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 28, 2014 Jennifer Fuson 202-370-8128 Jfuson [at] bradymail [dot] org

Washington, D.C. – The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence today released a report chronicling the impact of the Brady law and revealed that felons, domestic abusers, and fugitives are the top categories of prohibited purchasers who have been denied gun purchases since the law went into effect 20 years ago.

Since February 28, 1994, the Brady law has blocked more than 2.1 million gun purchases, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That is 343 purchases blocked every day. More than one million of those attempted purchases were by felons. Another 291,000 denials were to domestic abusers. And, 118,000 gun sales to fugitives were blocked thanks to background checks.

“It is clear Brady background checks work. Lives have been saved by the Brady law as we have seen the undeniable evidence showing gun homicides have decreased since the law took effect 20 years ago,” said Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “We need Congress to expand Brady background checks to make it harder for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns online, in classified advertisements or at gun shows.”

Joined by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Brady Campaign Chair Sarah Brady, Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Congressional leaders, and families of shooting victims, Gross released the report, 20 Years of Brady Background Checks: The Case for Finishing the Job to Keep America Safer, Friday at a Capitol Hill press conference.

“This report reflects the challenges we faced in passing the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act 20 years ago and the results prove our efforts were worth it,” said Sarah Brady. Her husband, Jim, was the inspiration for the Brady law after he was shot and severely injured during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Convicted felons, fugitives from justice, and domestic abusers made up nearly 70% of firearm purchase applications denied from 1994 to 2010, according to the most recent data available.
  • On average, felons are blocked 171 times a day.
  • On average, domestic abusers are blocked 48 times a day.
  • On average, fugitives are blocked 19 times a day.

Currently, roughly 40 percent of gun purchases are not subject to a Brady background check. This includes guns sold online and at gun shows when sold through unlicensed sellers. Nine in ten Americans support expanding background checks to online and gun shows sales, but despite public support, Congress failed to pass meaningful legislation to expand background checks last year. However, states still acted; 21 states passed new gun laws to curb gun violence, including eight states that passed major gun reforms in 2013. Four of those states – Colorado, Connecticut, New York, and Delaware – passed new laws expanding background checks on all gun sales.

“For 20 years, Brady background checks have prevented violence, protected communities, and saved lives. But we must do more,” Leader Pelosi said. “It’s long past time to expand and strengthen the background checks with the bipartisan King-Thompson bill -- and we’ve come together today with a clear, simple, and firm message: let’s finish the job to protect and defend the American people.”

“For 20 years, the Brady Act has helped prevent guns from falling into dangerous hands. Now it is time to finish the job by passing my bipartisan bill that makes sure people can’t bypass a background check by simply going online or to a gun show,” said Rep. Mike Thompson. “We know background checks work. They keep guns away from criminals, terrorists, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill, and they respect people’s Second Amendment Rights. People on both sides of the aisle came together 20 years ago and passed the original Brady Act. In two decades it has saved countless lives. It’s time to come together again and finish the job.”

“Jim and I are optimistic about the future,” said Sarah Brady. “It took six years and seven votes to pass the Brady bill, but we stayed the course until we passed the legislation. We are not going away and we’ll continue the fight until we finish the job and get expand background checks to all gun sales.”

To read the report in its entirety visit: http://www.bradycampaign.org/programs/finish-the-job/20th-anniversary-re...

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