This Day in History: Brady Background Checks as Law
On November 30, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established background checks on all firearm purchases from federally licensed dealers. The name of the law honored Jim Brady, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s Press Secretary was and shot in the head in 1981 during an assassination attempt on the president’s life by a dangerously mentally ill man. Today, February 28, 2014, marks 20 years since the provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act took effect. To date, Brady background checks have prevented over 2 million gun sales in the United States.
Deuteronomy 22:8 commands us: “When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you do not bring blood upon your house, if any man should fall from the roof.” Jewish tradition teaches us that we should take preventative measures against violence and bloodshed. Our biblical teachings command us to build railings on the roofs of our houses to make sure that no one falls to their death. In our modern society, background checks on gun purchases are a figurative parapet against gun violence.
On the 20th anniversary of the Brady Bill taking effect, we can reflect on the successes of the Brady Bill and the impact it has had on our society. But we must also acknowledge that there is still more to do: only 60% of gun sales currently take place with a Brady background check–and 40% of gun sales take place at unlicensed gun shows or on the internet and are not subject to background checks. Today, we must recommit ourselves to closing this dangerous loophole and upholding our Jewish values of preventing violence and bloodshed.
Take action today:
- Tell Congress that you support the bipartisan proposals to expand background checks to cover all commercial sales, including gun shows and classified ads.
- Join the Washington National Cathedral and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, and a coalition of 50 national denominations and faith-based organizations including the Reform Jewish Movement, a unique opportunity called Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend. Remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of the loss of a loved one and continue the discussion on how communities of faith can work together to help reduce gun violence. The interfaith event takes place during the month of March. For more information or to find out how your congregation can be involved, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Deborah Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-387-2800.