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Some States May Be Surprised by Brady Law Coverage

February 24, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Brady law’s five-day waiting period and background check for handgun purchases takes effect Monday, and some states may be surprised to find they are subject to the law.

The wait won’t cover some of the most populous states such as California, New York and Florida, which already have sufficient alternatives such as gun- buyer permits or background checks of their own.

But Washington state has had its own five-day wait and a background check since the mid-1980s, and it’s on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ list of states that must comply with the new federal regulations.

Seattle police Sgt. Verlin Judd said his unit already checks for virtually all the exclusions that the Brady law requires, including people charged with or convicted of virtually any felony, fugitives, illegal aliens, drug addicts, and adjudicated mental defectives.

However, the ATF says that’s not enough.

The problem, according to ATF spokesman Jack Killorin, is that Washington state’s background check on handgun buyers is conducted by the chief law enforcement official in the city or county where the gun is purchased. The Brady law requires that the check be done by the chief law enforcement official in the area where the buyer lives.

Judd said in an interview that that shouldn’t make any difference.

″All felonies go into our Washington state crime information computer,″ so someone arrested for a felony in Tacoma, for example, would appear in the computer when Seattle police do their check, he said.

If that’s not acceptable to the federal authorities, he said, ″We’re probably going to challenge that.″

According to the ATF, the states and territories that must comply with the Brady law’s five-day wait and background check are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Marianas Islands, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Mexico.

Also: North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington state, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Handgun Control Inc., the chief proponent of the Brady law during the seven years of congressional battles before it was passed last November, developed a list last year of states it believed would be exempt. That list included Washington as well as Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

But the ATF said the only exempt states and other areas are California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Virgin Islands, Virginia and Wisconsin.

It noted, however, that an additional four states could become exempt if they pass bills pending in their state legislatures. They are Colorado, North Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Five other states where the federal waiting period applies have exemptions for handgun purchases by people holding valid permits or licenses issued within five years before the gun purchase, ATF said. Those states are Georgia, Mississippi, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

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