An Update on the State of Brady Background Checks
As the 10-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, which exposed deadly gaps in the background check system approached this year, Congress was hard at work rolling back protections that were passed in the wake of the deadly attack.
Three years ago, the Brady Campaign published "20 Years of Brady Background Checks: The Case for Finishing the Job to Keep America Safer." It chronicled the story of Jim and Sarah Brady, who worked tirelessly to pass the bill that would implement the current background check system, which has grown into a robust mechanism responsible for halting more than 3 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers. In 2014, we told you why it was so important to expand lifesaving Brady background checks to every gun sale. The world we live in today looks drastically different from the one Jim and Sarah knew in 1994: the Internet has made it easy for dangerous people to find and acquire guns thanks to a loophole in federal law that allows private, unlicensed sellers to sell firearms without performing a background check.
Since that report was published, the political climate has drastically shifted. The success of Brady background checks and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) system are widely recognized and tied to tangible results. Despite the fact that popular support in favor of expanding background checks to every gun purchase is higher than ever, the gun industry and its allies in the executive and legislative branches have instead launched an all-out attack on some of the basic tenets of the system. As the 10-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, which exposed deadly gaps in the background check system approached this year, Congress was hard at work rolling back protections that were passed in the wake of the deadly attack. These efforts to undermine and roll back measures created to prevent dangerous people from accessing lethal firearms have been swift. At a time when we should be spending resources to update and strengthen our current background check system, these bills seek to weaken the greatest and best defense our nation has erected to stop dangerous individuals from gaining access to guns.