3/01/2014

The Brady Law turned 20 years old on February 28th, a note on the news coverage

Unfortunately, The Hill newspaper has this all too typical take on the Brady Act.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which took effect 20 years ago Friday, has blocked more than 2 million firearm sales, preventing “countless” killings and other crimes, gun control advocates said at an event to mark the anniversary. . . . 
The Christian Science Monitor wrote something similar:
Assessing 20 years of the "Brady law," which requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks on all potential buyers, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reported that at least 2 million purchases have been blocked – more than 1 million of them involving felons. Others thwarted were domestic abusers and fugitives, Brady officials say. . . .
Here is something that I had at Fox News on this very claim about 2 million prohibited people from buying guns.  What really should have been stated is that there were 2 million initial denials.
. . . The truth is, the databases the government uses to determine eligibility for gun purchases are rife with errors. 
This is the same problem experienced with the “No Fly” list. Remember the five timesthat the late Sen. Ted Kennedy was “initially denied” flights because his name was on the anti-terror “no fly” list? His name was just too similar to someone that we really did want to keep from flying. By Obama’s method of counting, that means the “no fly” list stopped five flights by terrorists. 
For gun purchases, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dropped over 94 percent of “initial denials” after just the first preliminary review. The annual National Instant Criminal Background Check System report explains that these cases were dropped either because the additional information showed that the wrong people had been stopped or because the covered offenses were so many decades old that the government decided not to prosecute. At least a fifth of the remaining 6 percent were still false positives. 
All these denials mean delays for many law-abiding gun buyers. Although this is merely an inconvenience for most, initial denials cause dangerous delays for people who suddenly, legitimately need a gun for self-defense, such as a woman being stalked by an ex-boyfriend or spouse.Beyond the crashes in the computers doing the checks and the initial denials, another 6 percent of checks fail to be completed within two hours, with most delays winding up taking three days. . . .
Indeed, my own research suggests these delays from the background check system likely increase violent crime, even if ever so slightly. Perhaps not too surprisingly, rape appears to be the crime most sensitive to these delays. 
Furthermore, there is no real scientific evidence among criminologists and economists that background checks actually reduce crime. In fact, a 2004 National Academy of Sciences panel concluded that the Brady background checks didn't reduce any type of violent crime. Nor have other later studies found a beneficial effect. . . . 
The Washington Post has this blog post on how gun politics have changed since the Brady Act was adopted.  None of these changes are going to be a surprise to those who have followed the blog, though they will also notice that some of the polls picked here are somewhat selective.  For example, the Post picks the PEW poll on support for gun control whereas the Gallup and CNN polls show slightly more opposition.

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