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How Brady Background Checks Became Law

Twenty-five years ago, America took a historic stand against gun violence. On February 28, 1994, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, also known as the Brady Law, went into effect as the first federal law to require background checks for gun sales.

Named for White House Press Secretary Jim Brady, who was shot in the head during the assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan, the Brady Law was many years in the making by the time it took effect in 1994. As Congress now moves to expand background checks to include virtually all gun sales, Brady is leading the next battle in the long fight against American gun violence.

Decades after the Bradys helped lead the movement, background checks on gun sales are more popular in America than nearly any policy measure being debated today.

A 2018 Quinnipiac poll showed that an astounding 97 percent of Americans support a background check for every gun sale — including 97 percent of gun-owning households. A 2012 survey by GOP pollster Frank Luntz found that even 74 percent of NRA members support this common-sense reform.


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