John Hinckley, during his 1981 attempt to assassinate then-President Ronald Reagan, also ended up shooting two law enforcement officers as well as Reagan's press secretary, James S. Brady. Though not killed by his handgun wound to the head, Brady was left with brain damage which caused a speech impediment and an inability to walk. In the mid-eighties a bill was proposed that would give a five day waiting period before a handgun could be purchased, allowing the state to do a full background check on the buyer. This waiting period would insure that nobody with a felony conviction, a history of mental instability, illegal alien status, etc. would be allowed to buy a handgun. It would also give handgun buyers a "cooling off" period, with the hope of averting crimes of passion or rage that could take place in less than an hour.

The Brady Bill was finally passed in 1993, as an interim solution before a computer background check law passed in 1988 could be implemented. A system for doing computerized background checking (and then instant gun sale) was to be in place by 1998. Anybody buying a handgun before then had to complete the five day waiting period while the local police or sheriff's department completed the background check. These measures have both done what they were supposed to; in 1997 about 69,000 handgun sales were blocked because of failed background checks, and in the first two years of the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) there were over 300,000 handgun denials. Since NICS went online, the five day waiting period has been done away with, as have the local law enforcement checks.

Opponents to the Brady Bill said it would put undue strain on local legal systems, which would have to divert officers from enforcing "real" laws. Sheriff Richard Mack of Graham County, Arizona took his suit against the US Government, arguing was that the Fed couldn't impose rules upon local law enforcers, as that was a power not granted in the Constitution, and thus went against the tenth amendment. His case was defeated in the Supreme Court. Curiously, nobody made a suit on the grounds of violation of the second amendment, which clearly contains the phrase "... shall not be infringed."

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