Originally created 07/03/97

Brady gunned down



Are those faint cheers from the ethereal mists we hear from long gone states' rights advocates like Thomas Jefferson or John C. Calhoun?

States' righters who believe in limiting growing federal power have every reason to applaud last Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Brady gun control law enacted by the last Democrat-controlled Congress.

The case was brought before the High Court by two principled sheriffs angry that the feds had commandeered their local authority. They argued that the law also endangered public safety, because it forced them to pull deputies off criminal investigations to conduct background checks on what almost always turned out to be law-abiding firearms buyers. (We've heard this same complaint from area sheriffs.)

The ruling affects 20 states, since the other 30 have their own background checking systems in place (including 16 that have adopted the instant check-and-arrest system).

The computerized instant check-and-arrest system is something that should have been enacted into law Ä not the unfunded mandate on localities known as the Brady bill.

Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., notes "the number of felons incarcerated as a result of Brady could be literally counted on one hand. In Virginia, the first instant check-and-arrest state, they have arrested more than 2,400 felons who illegally attempted to purchase guns."

The Clinton administration was charged by Congress in 1993 with developing the instant check-and-arrest system. Now, four years later, Congress must prompt the president into forgetting Brady and moving more quickly to implement the better check system.