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Presale Handgun Checks, 1996: A National Estimate

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT NOON EDT              BJS
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 1997         202/633-3047

BRADY ACT BACKGROUND CHECKS PREVENT 173,000
ILLEGAL HANDGUN PURCHASES SINCE FEBRUARY 1994
IMPLEMENTATION
                                
Handgun Figure is Subset of More Than 250,000
Firearm Sales Blocked Since February 1994          
                                          
     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In its first analysis of
a subset of the estimated 250,000 illegal firearm
sales blocked by the Brady Act since it took
effect in February of 1994, the Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
announced today that an estimated 173,000 illegal
handgun sales were blocked by Brady background
checks.  Approximately 70,000 of the illegal
handgun sales were blocked in 1996, BJS reported.
     The handgun sales are only a subset of all
firearm sales that were blocked under the
background check provision of the Brady Act.  A
previous BJS statistical report, "Presale Firearms
Checks," estimated that 6,600 firearms application
were rejected each month, totaling more than
250,000 illegal firearms--including rifles and
other long guns in addition to handguns--blocked
between the establishment of Brady background
checks and June 1997.
     The Brady Act requires federally licensed
firearm dealers to submit handgun purchase
applications for a buyer background check, either
under the provisions of the act or under the terms
of a comparable state statute.  Earlier this year,
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal
government could not require states to conduct
background checks, although almost every state
continues to do such checks.
     Altogether last year, dealers throughout the
United States obtained background checks for
almost 2.6 million handgun purchase applications. 
Of these, 2.7 percent were rejected following
checks by state or local law enforcement
officials.  
     Approximately 47,000 handgun sales were
denied because the applicants had been indicted
for felony offenses or had felony convictions;
4,200 were fugitives from justice; 3,900 were
prohibited because of state laws; 2,700 were the
subjects of restraining orders; and 1,000 had
mental disabilities.  
     The remainder of the handgun sale rejections
were because the individual attempting to make the
purchase was either a juvenile, an illegal alien,
a person dishonorably discharged from the armed
services, a person who had renounced citizenship,
or someone who had been convicted of a domestic
violence offense.
     When doing background checks either following
the Brady Act procedures or under state laws, 49
states searched criminal history files, 45 checked
for fugitives, 32 checked restraining order files
and 16 check for a mental disability.
     State governments, the FBI and the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have identified
about 5,200 state and local law enforcement
agencies within the United States and designated
their heads as Chief Law Enforcement Officers
(CLEOs).  Data was collected from 311 agencies,
including 21 with state-wide jurisdiction.  These
21 states contain 65 percent of the United States
residents.
     The data collected by BJS refer only to
attempted handgun purchases from federally
licensed firearms dealers.
     More specific details are available in the
BJS bulletin, "Presale Handgun Checks, 1996"
(NCJ-165704), written by BJS staff members Donald
A. Manson and Darrell K. Gilliard.  It and "Survey
of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales,
1996" (NCJ-163918) are available on the BJS fax-
on-demand system at 301-519-5550 and on the
Internet home page at:
         http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/
     Additional criminal justice materials can be
obtained from the Office of Justice Programs
homepage at:
          http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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BJS97109 
After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

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Date Created: May 27, 2009