A federal law that requires a five-day waiting period for gun purchases in order to conduct a background check on the buyer was approved slightly more than 30 years ago.
This law, which created a national database, was the result of an intense seven-year campaign led by James Brady, press secretary to Ronald Reagan, who became permanently disabled during an assassination attempt against the ex-president in 1981.
It all started with the attack on Reagan by a young man with mental issues. The Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 led to the reinforcement of the so-called Brady Act, which President George W. Bush enacted.
What a difference between then and now.
Back then, the National Rifle Association (NRA) opposed gun control as vocally as now. The difference was that Congress responded to the concerns of Americans regarding the attacks and massacres with firearms.
Ex-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined the gun-control cause after being shot outside a supermarket, an attack that left her with permanent damage. A year later in 2012, an individual with mental issues killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
These situations inspired popular support for expanding gun control. However, unlike in the past, the NRA’s extremism is the one dominating Congress, which is disregarding the call for measures that contribute to preventing these tragedies from happening again.
Thanks to the Brady Act, the database contains 3.4 million records for people with mental issues and irregularities in gun sales have been minimally reduced. Something is better than nothing. However, according to estimates, more than 2.8 million people have been killed or wounded with guns ever since the attack against Reagan.
James Brady died on Monday. He set an example, with his wife, Sarah, of fighting adversity and turning a personal tragedy into a cause that was able to confront and legislatively defeat the NRA.
Many deaths have surely been avoided thanks to the 1993 law. That is the legacy of Brady’s lifethe one that must inspire the ongoing battle for a reasonable gun-control policy.