The Brady Bill, or the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, is a federal law that required a 5 day waiting period for a background check before any gun could be sold to an individual. The Act was signed into law by Bill Clinton on November 30, 1993 and went into effect on February 28, 1994. The act was named after James Brady, who was shot during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Regan.
The Brady bill required all purchasers to wait while a background check was run before the transfer of the gun could take place, usually taking 5 days. If the background check cleared in less than 5 days, the transfer could take place at that time, if the check took longer, then the transfer could not proceed until the check had been passed. The waiting period could be bypassed entirely if the purchaser could show proof of clearing it previously, such as a current state issued concealed weapons permit. This act only applied to dealers licensed to sell firearms by the Treasury Department to private individuals. Private transfers between individuals, such as those done at a Gun Show, did not fall under this act as the federal government has no authority over intrastate commerce. In many jurisdictions though, actual background checks were not completed and the act simply became a 5 day waiting period.
The Bill Today
With the rapid growth of the Internet, the 5 day waiting period expired on November 30, 1998, and was replaced by a criminal background check being passed by the National Instant Check System (NCIS). This process often only takes minutes, but can take up to 3 days. If the 3 days pass without a denial being issued, then the gun sale is allowed to occur.