Let's Not Forget about the
by Erich Pratt
Director of Communications for Gun
Owners of America
Just recently, the nation remembered the tragic shootings of President Ronald
Reagan and Press Secretary Jim Brady which occurred twenty years ago on March
But there is another anniversary that gun control advocates don't want to
talk about. Ten years ago, a Brady-style waiting period resulted in the death of
Bonnie Elmasri of Wisconsin.
In April of 1991, Bonnie's relatives were grieving her untimely death. She
had just inquired about getting a gun to protect herself from a husband who had
repeatedly threatened to kill her. She was told there was a 48-hour waiting
period to buy a handgun.
Unfortunately, Bonnie was never able to pick up the gun she needed for
self-defense. She and her two sons were killed the very next day by an abusive
husband of whom the police were well aware.
Contrast this horrible tragedy to another woman's story that ended much
Marine Lance Corporal Rayna Ross of Virginia bought a handgun to protect her
child and herself from a stalker in 1993. Three days later, the predator entered
her home in the middle of the night and attacked Ms. Ross with a bayonet.
She shot and killed the attacker in what the local prosecutor ruled to be a
Thankfully, Ms. Ross was not disarmed by a dangerous waiting period. She is
still alive today because, unlike Bonnie Elmasri, her right to protect herself
was not put on hold by some government bureaucrat.
Brady backers assure us that federal laws only impose an "instant"
background check on a person's right to buy a firearm. But just last month, the
General Accounting Office (GAO) showed that in the cases where the FBI approved
a gun purchase, sixty percent of those sales were delayed by at least a day. In
other words, the so-called instant check was serving as a de facto waiting
Gun control proponents insist on these background checks, however, telling us
that we need them to keep guns "out of the wrong hands."
But the Brady Law is not doing that. The recent GAO study also found that
criminals can easily use fake IDs to evade the background checks required by the
No kidding! Gun owners have been saying for years that criminals don't obey
the law. Why did our government have to commission a GAO study to figure that
out? To all this, gun grabbers simply respond, "Look, there are dumb
criminals out there. And the Brady Law will help keep guns from those few felons
who do try to buy a gun from a gun store."
But most criminals are not dumb. It's the law that is foolish. Even when
felons are stopped by the background check, they can still go down the street
and get firearms from somewhere else.
In 1999, Benjamin Smith was rejected by a background check when he tried to
buy a gun from an Illinois gun dealer. But after this initial rejection, he hit
the streets and picked up two handguns from an illegal source.
Just a few days after getting the guns, Smith went on a rampage that killed
two people and wounded nine others.
The truth of the matter is that all the millions of dollars that have been
poured into conducting background checks in this country cannot stop -- and have
not stopped -- the Benjamin Smiths of the world from getting guns.
Why should we leave a law on the books that penalizes honest citizens, but
rarely punishes criminals?
Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America,
which is headquartered in northern Virginia. GOA is on the web at http://www.gunowners.org
and can be reached for information at 1-888-886-GUNS.