Brady Act: Everything You Need to Know
The Brady Act imposes a waiting period of up to five days for the purchase of a handgun, and subjects purchasers to a background check during that period.2 min read
The Brady Act, passed in 1993 as an amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968, imposes a waiting period of up to five days for the purchase of a handgun, and subjects purchasers to a background check during that period. See 18 U.S.C. section 922(s)(1). The waiting period and background check prescribed by the Act are not required in States that have permit systems meeting standards prescribed by the Act. 18 U.S.C. section 922(s)(1)(C), (D). Within five years from the effective date of the Act, such checks will be performed instantaneously through a national criminal background check system maintained by the Department of Justice, 18 U.S.C. section 922(t), but in the meantime the background checks must be performed by the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) of the prospective purchaser's place of residence. 18 U.S.C. section 922(s)(2).
The Act requires CLEOs to 'make a reasonable effort to ascertain . . . whether receipt or possession [of a handgun by the prospective buyer] would be in violation of the law . . . .' Id. The CLEO performs the check on the basis of a sworn statement signed by the buyer and provided to the CLEO by a federally-licensed gun dealer. 18 U.S.C. section 922(s)(1)(A). If the CLEO approves the transfer, he or she must destroy the buyer's statement within twenty business days after the statement was made. 18 U.S.C. section 922(s)(6)(B). If the CLEO disapproves the transfer, the CLEO must provide the reasons for the determination within twenty business days if so requested by the disappointed purchaser. 18 U.S.C. section 922(s)(6)(C).
What Does the Brady Act Do?
The Brady Act regulates the sale of handguns and thus directly regulates commerce. It is an amendment to a comprehensive federal scheme for the regulation of firearms sales that unquestionably affect interstate commerce. The legislative history of the Brady Act also contains findings that gun violence affects commerce. See H.R. Rep. 103-344, 103rd Cong., 1st Sess., reprinted in 1993 U.S.C.C.A.N. 1984, 1985.