NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Brady Act Did Not Reduce Gun Homicides

August 2, 2000

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act has had little effect on U.S. homicide and suicide rates, according to a new study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The authors of the study, Jens Ludwig of Georgetown University and Philip Cook of Duke University, found "no differences in homicide or firearms homicide rates to adult victims" following implementation of the act.

  • The 1994 law required handgun sellers to make background checks and instituted a waiting period for buyers which since then has been phased out.
  • Eighteen U.S. states already had similar gun control measures in place when the legislation was passed, but the law created new restrictions in 32 others -- which the researchers classified as "treatment states."
  • The study examined firearms homicide and suicide rates from 1985 through 1997.
  • They did find, however, that the waiting period did play a role in reducing the firearms suicide rate for persons age 55 and older -- a segment of the population more prone to suicide, but less likely to own guns.

Although their study provides no evidence one way or the other, the authors said the law could have affected the secondary market for guns -- that is, illegal sales of guns on the black market or by unlicensed dealers.

Source: Reuters, "Study Finds Gun-Control Act Has Been Largely Ineffectual," Washington Times, August 2, 2000.


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