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Wounding the Brady Bill

If only Congress had given the Brady gun-control law a bit of the incentive-to-comply that it used to offer on other matters when it wanted states to do something without simply being required to by the feds.

The Supreme Court, alas, has ruled that state and local officials cannot be required to perform the Brady-bill background checks on gun purchasers. One interpretation is that the court might have permitted a law asking for the checks if the law offered states something in return (as in payments for holding federal prisoners). That's what happened when Congress sought to legislate state compliance with land-use policy, for example. It would say, in effect, you don't have to comply but if you do you'll get your share of airport funding. Implied: If you don't you won't.

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Some states did comply with Brady without such nudging, and some are expected to continue even though the Supreme Court has taken them off the hook. Until a national facility for background checks is ready, and as long as the high court refuses to consider gun control a national problem requiring local compliance, all states will have to pursue responsible gun control - or look down the barrel of their own consciences.

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