For Release: Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Today’s Washington Post story, “Domestic Abusers Bought Guns,” unequivocally demonstrates that law enforcement officials need more time, not less time, to ensure that domestic abusers are prevented from purchasing firearms in connection with background checks required by the Brady Law. In response to the story and the important information contained in the General Accounting Office (GAO) report, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) issued the following statement:
“The Violence Policy Center has consistently opposed efforts to shorten the time provided in the Brady Law to complete background checks from the current three business days. Although an overwhelming majority of background checks are completed within minutes, a sale may be delayed for up to three business days when there is a question whether someone is actually prohibited from purchasing a gun.
“However, in 1999 the NRA first proposed slicing the time for researching criminal histories from a maximum of three business days to 24 hours, which would virtually guarantee that domestic abusers and other criminals would get guns. The McCain-Lieberman gun show legislation also proposes to shorten the time to 24 hours for certain background checks.
“The VPC supports the GAO’s recommendation to give law enforcement sufficient time and in no event less than three business days to complete background checks. As the GAO report documents, a large percentage of background checks needing additional time involve domestic violence offenders, and a disproportionately high percentage of domestic abusers were allowed to purchase guns because law enforcement ran out of time to finish their background checks.
“The GAO report also documents that there are serious policy reasons for preserving three business days, although that is not even enough time in many cases to complete the process when domestic violence crimes are involved. Three business days is more than just a minor detail and it should not be traded away for minimal political gains, especially when the lives of women and children are at stake.”