What's the most current scoop on the Brady Law?

As far as I can tell from stuff I’ve seen on the net, it was officially enacted on 11/30/1993 . More than that, I have a hard time discerning- as soon as I seen sub-sectional explanations and law-speak, my brain involuntarily glazes over. :slight_smile:

So what’s the deal? I, and everyone I’ve asked IRL, all assumed that the law stated a federally mandated waiting period for the purchase of all handguns, yet when I went to purchase one, from a licensed dealer, there was none- I paid and got a pistol on the spot.

Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on the matter,


The waiting period applies only in states without an acceptable alternate system of conducting background checks on handgun purchasers.

The 5-day waiting period on handguns was part (or all? I forget) of the interim provisions of the Brady Bill, which only were effective for five years (Nov 30 1993- Nov 30 1998). After the five years were up, the interim provisions went away and the permanent provisions went into effect. The National Instant Criminal Check system was created during that time, and starting in 1998 any firearm purchase from an FFL (not just handguns) requires either a NICS check or an approved alternate check (generally something like a concealed carry permit or a handgun permit).

The NICS check involves the dealer taking your filled out form 4473 (which includes name, DOB, address, state/county of birth, height and weight) and calling a number set up by the FBI and reading them the information. They then run a check (and aside from checking for criminal record by name and location, check that the description matches etc.) and respond with either ‘accept’ (you can buy the gun now) ‘deny’ (you can’t buy the gun, either you’re disqualified or you need to appeal) or ‘delay’ (they’re not sure and need to check, if they don’t respond within 3 days then you can buy the gun at that time).

In MA (where your profile says you live), however, the dealer probably didn’t need to do this. Massachusetts has rather restrictive firearms laws IIRC- you have to get a permit for each handgun from the state and a FOID card for any gun or ammunition purchases (I could be getting them mixed up with Maryland, but I know both states are similar). If you went through a state application and permit procedure, then what happened is that said procedure is at least as comprehensive as a NICS check, so the dealer doesn’t have to do one - the state permit already covers the background check.

That is incorrect, the waiting period only applied until 1998 when the permanent Brady Bill provisions went into effect. Now (post-98) you are required to get a NICS check for any firearm, not just a handgun, but there is no mandated waiting period. At worst, you have to wait 3 days if NICS returns a ‘delay’ response. The page you cited mentions that the waiting period is gone if you read down a ways.