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Rising Anger Over Gun Violence Revives the Brady Bill

Next on the agenda of the gun-control lobby: changing federal license rules for gun dealers

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MOUNTING public anger over handgun violence, particularly now among children, has helped push the Brady bill out of congressional limbo after two years of being stalled.

The measure, requiring a five-day waiting period before buying a gun from a licensed dealer, was unexpectedly approved last week by a US House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee.

Rep. Jack Brooks (D) of Texas, the Judiciary Committee chairman who has opposed the measure, acknowledged his decision to send the bill to the full committee this week was in response to increased pressure from colleagues who favor the bill. The Senate also will debate an identical measure this week.

Pressure also comes from the White House, since the Brady bill is part of President Clinton's anti-crime package. The president has repeatedly said he will sign the Brady bill if Congress approves it.

The measure is named for former White House press secretary James Brady, who was shot during the assassination attempt on President Reagan, and is designed to allow authorities five days to check the backgrounds of those wanting to buy handguns.

Over $100 million in federal funds would also be made available to states to upgrade computer capability to scan their files for either known criminals, or people with a history of mental instability, and to provide a ``cooling off'' period for those buying guns in anger.

``About half of all states now have some form of background check or waiting period,'' says Susan Whitmore, director of communication for Handgun Control Inc. in Washington, D.C. ``What the Brady bill will do is establish a uniform standard for states to follow. As it stands now, in many states criminals can purchase guns without any check at all.''

Opponents of the Brady bill, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), insist that the bill is virtually meaningless because guns bought by criminals usually come from the black market.

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