Let’s Not Forget About The “Brady Victims”

On March 30, the nation remembers the tragic shootings of President Ronald Reagan and Press Secretary Jim Brady which occurred twenty years ago.

But there is another anniversary that gun control advocates don’t want to talk about. Ten years ago this month, a Brady-style waiting period resulted in the death of Bonnie Elmasri of Wisconsin.

In March of 1991, Bonnie inquired about getting a gun to protect herself from a husband who had repeatedly threatened to kill her. She was told there was a 48-hour waiting period to buy a handgun.

Unfortunately, Bonnie was never able to pick up the gun she needed for self-defense. She and her two sons were killed the very next day by an abusive husband of whom the police were well aware.

Contrast this horrible tragedy to another woman’s story that ended much differently.

Marine Lance Corporal Rayna Ross of Virginia bought a handgun to protect her child and herself from a stalker in 1993. Three days later, the predator entered her home in the middle of the night and attacked Ms. Ross with a bayonet.

She shot and killed the attacker in what the local prosecutor ruled to be a justifiable homicide.

Thankfully, Ms. Ross was not disarmed by a dangerous waiting period. She is still alive today because, unlike Bonnie Elmasri, her right to protect herself was not put on hold by some government bureaucrat.

Brady backers assure us that federal laws only impose an “instant” background check on a person’s right to buy a firearm. But just last month, the General Accounting Office (GAO) showed that in the cases where the FBI approved a gun purchase, sixty percent of those sales were delayed. In other words, the so-called instant check was serving as a de facto waiting period.

Gun control proponents insist on these background checks, however, telling us that we need them to keep guns “out of the wrong hands.”

But the Brady Law is not doing that. The recent GAO study also found that criminals can easily use fake IDs to evade the background checks required by the Brady Law.

No kidding! Gun owners have been saying for years that criminals don’t obey the law. Why did our government have to commission a GAO study to figure that out?

To all this, gun grabbers simply respond, “Look, there are dumb criminals out there. And the Brady Law will help keep guns from those few felons who do try to buy a gun from a gun store.”

But most criminals are not dumb. It’s the law that is foolish. Even when felons are stopped by the background check, they can still go down the street and get firearms from somewhere else.

In 1999, Benjamin Smith was rejected by a background check when he tried to buy a gun from an Illinois gun dealer. But after this initial rejection, he hit the streets and picked up two handguns from an illegal source.

Just a few days after getting the guns, Smith went on a rampage that killed two people and wounded nine others.

The truth of the matter is that all the millions of dollars that have been poured into conducting background checks in this country cannot stop — and have not stopped — the Benjamin Smiths of the world from getting guns.

Why should we leave a law on the books that penalizes honest citizens, but rarely punishes criminals?

Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, which is headquartered in northern Virginia.