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Clinton Wants Brady Bill Extended

June 15, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A senior White House official says the five-day waiting period for handgun purchases has saved lives and should be extended beyond its expiration date this fall.

Under the 1993 Brady Act, the waiting period is to end on Nov. 30, replaced by a nationwide instant background check for all would-be handgun buyers.

But Rahm Emanuel, an adviser to President Clinton, said Sunday that even with the instant check the administration hoped to keep the waiting period. ``We think that’s a priority, because it has worked effectively,″ he told NBC’s ``Meet The Press.″

Twenty percent of guns used in murders are purchased in the week before the crime, and the cooling-off period has helped prevent crimes of passion, Emanuel said. He called the waiting period ``good common sense.″

Extending the waiting period would require legislative action, and neither the Republican-run Congress nor the pro-gun lobby is likely to easily accept the idea.

Tanya Metaksa, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, told The Associated Press that Congress has given the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms nearly $250 million to get the instant check system up and running and ``nobody to date has even suggested that we go and keep the five-day wait.″

The NRA generally backs the instant check. NRA President Charlton Heston, also on ``Meet the Press,″ likened it to ``a credit card, and if you’re proven to have a clean, no felony record, then you’re allowed to buy the gun.″

At the same time, the NRA is pressing for legislation barring the FBI from imposing a gun tax to help pay for the computer system.

Attorney General Janet Reno said last week that states are being asked to run their own criminal background checks, and the Justice Department says the FBI plans to charge $13 to $16 per check to states that do not perform their own. About half the states so far have agreed to do their own checks.

In 1996, police checked the backgrounds of 2.6 million would-be handgun buyers, with 70,000 sales blocked because of felony records and other reasons.

The new instant check system will use a network of computers administered by the FBI to give on-the-spot approval to legal gun buyers and flag unauthorized buyers. A gun dealer will be notified within three days whether to reject any flagged sale or go ahead with it.

Emanuel said the administration’s top gun-control goal this year is congressional passage of laws requiring child safety locks on all handguns and extension of the Brady Act to juveniles. He said the White House also is looking at legislation making parents responsible for gun crimes committed by their children.

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