For Release: Wednesday, May 20, 1998
Violence Policy Center Fights “Giant Leap Backwards”
The federal government has quietly proposed a little-noticed regulation that will dramatically weaken the Brady Law in 29 states, according to comments filed today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) opposing the plan.
The draft rule, written by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), would exempt a gun buyer from the Brady Law’s required federal background check if he or she holds a permit to carry concealed weapons under state law. The comments by the VPC argue that states perform inadequate background checks on applicants for concealed-carry permits, allowing buyers with criminal records to purchase guns in many instances.
“Lax state laws are no substitute for a consistent, strong nationwide instant background check,” says Kristen Rand, VPC’s director of federal policy. “ATF’s plan takes a giant leap backwards, and puts guns back in criminals’ hands again. It will allow hundreds of thousands of gun buyers to do an end run around the Brady Law.”
The VPC has conducted three in-depth studies of concealed-carry permits in Texas and Florida, the two most populous states with concealed-carry laws (see fact sheet Why a Concealed Carry License Should Not Substitute for the Brady Background Check). These analyses uncovered massive errors, including applicants with criminal records who were nonetheless granted permits. They also found permit holders who committed crimes, yet retained their permits for months or even years.
Under the Brady Law, the federal government has a November deadline to create a system for gun dealers to perform an “instant check” of a potential buyer’s background by telephone or computer. This check would replace the five-day waiting period currently in place.
States where concealed-weapons permits would substitute for the background check include Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Georgia.