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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 6, 1998
       President Clinton: Defending and Strengthening the Brady Law
                              August 6, 1998

At a Rose Garden event today, President Clinton will challenge Congress to make permanent the Brady waiting period of up to five days before the purchase of a handgun; and oppose Congressional efforts to undermine final implementation of the Brady Law.

Making Permanent the Brady Waiting Period for Handgun Sales

      Preserving a critical law enforcement tool.  The Brady Law
     establishes a five-day waiting period before a handgun can be sold,
     but this provision sunsets when the National Instant Criminal
     Background Check System (NICS) takes effect on November 30, 1998.
     While NICS will allow access to a fuller set of records than is now
     available -- and stop even more ineligible purchasers from buying
     firearms -- a permanent waiting period will enhance local law
     enforcement?s ability to be the last, best line of defense against
     illegal handgun purchases.  This waiting period will allow law
     enforcement officers to check additional, non-computerized records,
     and will provide cooling-off time for handgun purchases.

      Calling on Congress to beat the deadline.  President Clinton will
     challenge Congress to extend the Brady waiting period for handguns
     before it expires on November 30th.  He will support legislation
     introduced by Representative Schumer and Senator Durbin and 
     applying to all states to which the Brady Law now applies that 
     will: (1) require a minimum 3-day waiting period for all handgun 
     purchases; (2) add up to an additional two days to the waiting 
     period if law enforcement officers need more time to clarify 
     arrest records; and (3) require gun dealers to notify local law 
     enforcement officials of all proposed handgun purchases, as they 
     must now but under current law need not once the NICS goes into 

Defending the Brady Law

      Proof positive that Brady works.  Since taking effect in 1994, the
     Brady Law has prevented an estimated 242,000 felons, fugitives,
     mentally unstable persons, and other prohibited purchasers from 
     buying handguns.  In 1997 alone, 69,000 handgun purchases were 
     blocked as a result of Brady background checks.

      Expanding Brady?s reach.  Under the Brady Law, the National 
     Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) will take effect 
     on November 30, 1998.  NICS will allow access to a fuller set of 
     records than is now available, and law enforcement officials will 
     use it to conduct checks of all prospective gun purchases -- not 
     just handgun purchasers.  After nearly 5 years of working with law 
     enforcement to develop the NICS, the Justice and Treasury 
     Departments plan to propose a regulation to finalize its 
     implementation next week.

      Fighting efforts to undermine Brady.  A recent amendment to the
     Senate Commerce- Justice-State appropriations bill would undermine
     implementation of the NICS.  Among other things, the amendment 
     would prohibit the FBI from charging gun dealers a fee for 
     background checks, even though the FBI currently charges school 
     districts, day care providers, and many others for similar 
     background checks.  Without the resources generated by such a user 
     fee, the FBI either will have to forego processing millions of 
     background checks, or will have to transfer resources from other 
     crime fighting efforts.  The Administration strongly opposes this 
     anti-Brady amendment.