National Press Club

Brady campaign president and Sarah Brady speak on effects of Brady Bill, 20 years later

November 20, 2013 | By Jennifer A. Ejim |

Sarah Brady, Chair of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, spoke at a Nov. 19 National Press Club Luncheon on the long process toward getting the Brady Law passed, 20 years ago and how she has made the prevention of gun violence through restrictions on gun sales her “life’s work.”

One of the things the "Brady Bill" did was to “set up the national system for doing background checks. Before that, each state took care of their own,” she said.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, spoke to the audience about the significant number of casualties from gun violence on a daily basis, and the need to apply “real solutions” to tackle the problem.

“Real solutions exist to prevent many of those deaths, and to bring those solutions to fruition, what this issue needs is not more well-crafted academic cases or political debate, we need straight talk and clarity” Gross said.

Gross addressed what he called “some glaring misperceptions” about this important issue, “exemplified” by some of the questions often posed by the news media. He mentioned questions like “What could have been done to prevent a particular mass tragedy? And “How could a policy like expanded background checks have prevented a tragedy that just happened?”

While acknowledging that these were legitimate questions, Gross said that when it came to prioritization of attempts toward developing solutions, mass tragedies were not the best place to start in “efforts to prevent the most possible gun deaths.” These sorts of tragedies were not typically representative of the most gun violence in the country, the 90 deaths per day are more realistic, and should be the best starting point, he said.

Gross explained that most gun deaths are not the type of high profile cases that make the front pages, and gun suicides represent three quarters of gun deaths each year. He also acknowledged that no single solution is going to “prevent every act of violence.”

Speaking about what he called his organization's “primary legislative goal,” Gross said “the federal policy that by far could have the greatest impact on the number of gun deaths in our nation is expanded Brady background checks.”

Gross said that so far, the Brady law has prevented more than 2 million gun purchases, including sales to people such as fugitives, convicted felons, and domestic abusers who do not qualify to purchase guns.

Responding to a question from the audience asking if the Brady organization was working with legitimate gun sellers who were in compliance, to get their support, Gross said it was a matter of “all of us taking responsibility” for the “safety of our homes, our community, and ultimately, of our nation.” He said the majority of federal firearms license dealers were responsible, even though there was a small percentage of “bad apple gun dealers” who continue to sell guns to people without any questions asked.