It was 20 years ago that Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. As a result of this landmark law, criminals can no longer simply lie about their record and buy guns; now, federally licensed gun dealers must check the buyer's background to make sure that he or she is not prohibited from possessing guns. We knew that Brady background checks would save lives. And we now have 20 years of proof that Brady background checks work.
Since the Brady law went into effect on February 28, 1994, background checks have stopped more than 2.1 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers including convicted felons, domestic abusers, fugitives from justice, and other dangerous individuals.Make no mistake: Countless lives have been saved, and crimes have been prevented thanks to the Brady law.However, more needs to be done. Under current federal law, background checks are only required when someone attempts to purchase a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer. But federal law allows unlicensed persons to sell guns without a background check, no questions asked. To avoid background checks in today's world, convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers now buy weapons from unlicensed sellers at gun shows and through Internet websites, like Armslist.com.
In 2013, in the aftermath of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Congress considered legislation to expand background checks on all commercial or advertised gun sales. Despite the fact that nine in ten Americans support expanded background checks, the U.S. Senate failed to pass new legislation. While the bill received a majority of votes, itwas not enough to break a filibuster. Forty-five Senators -- forty-one Republicans and four Democrats -- defied the near unanimous will of the American people and sided with the corporate gun lobby.