What the Brady Law Says

The federal government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program. The mandatory obligations imposed on CLEOs [chief law enforcement officers] to perform background checks on prospective handgun purchasers plainly runs afoul of that rule. —Justice Scalia's majority opinion in Printz v. United States (1997)

The Brady Act was passed in response to what Congress described as an “epidemic of gun violence.”…The partial solution contained in the Brady Act, a mandatory background check before a handgun may be purchased, has met with remarkable success…the Congressional decision surely warrants more respect that it is accorded in today's unprecedented decision. —Justice Stevens's dissenting opinion in Printz v. United States (1997)

Like practically all gun control debates, the Brady Bill debate swirled around symbols and slogans. People tended to declare themselves for or against gun control, in principle. Those “for” gun control favored passage of the Brady Bill. Those opposed to gun control, of course, viewed the Brady Bill unfavorably. Even among partisans with strong views, probably few could explain what the Brady Bill actually said.

The Brady Law built on the regulatory scheme established by the 1938


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Can Gun Control Work?


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