The Brady bill and its passage

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 1996

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The legislative process in the United States Congress shows us an interesting drama in

which a bill becomes a law through compromises made by diverse and sometimes conflicting

interests in this country. There have been many controversial bills passed by Congress, but

among all, I have taken a particular interest in the passage of the Brady bill. When the Brady

debate was in full swing in Congress about three years ago, I was still back in my country,

Japan, where the possession of guns is strictly restricted by laws. While watching television

news reports on the Brady debate, I wondered what was making it so hard for this gun control

bill to pass in this gun violence ridden country. In this paper, I will trace the bill's seven year

history in Congress, which I hope will reveal how partisan politics played a crucial role in the

Brady bill's passage in this policy making branch.

The Brady bill took its name from Jim Brady, the former press secretary of President

Reagan, who was shot in the head and partially paralyzed in the assassination attempt on the

president in 1981. This bill was about a waiting period on handgun purchases allowing police to

check the backgrounds of the prospective buyers to make sure that guns are not sold to

convicted felons or to those who are mentally unstable. Even the proponents of the bill agreed

that the effect of the bill on curbing the gun violence might be minimal considering the fact that the

majority of guns used for criminal purposes were purchased through illegal dealers. However,

the Brady Bill represented the first major gun control legislation passed by Congress for more

than 20 years, and it meant a significant victory for gun control advocates in their way toward

even stricter...