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Handgun Waiting Period Starts Monday With PM-Brady Law-States

February 25, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Starting Monday, 34 states and territories must start implementing the Brady law’s five-day waiting period and background check for handgun purchases.

Some jurisdictions where the wait and background check are supposed to be implemented could be surprised they’re subject to that part of the law.

The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, is trying to block its implementation with federal lawsuits contending the law violates states’ rights and is unconstitutionally vague, said Bob Corbin, a former Arizona attorney general and president of the NRA.

Corbin said he hopes to have the lawsuits filed in Arizona, Montana and possibly other states within a week.

″We’re getting calls from all over the country, mostly from sheriffs who say it won’t work and want to be plaintiffs,″ Corbin said Wednesday.

There are disputes about just where the new law applies.

In Washington, for example, the state has had its own five-day wait and background check on handgun buyers for years.

″The Brady bill really doesn’t affect the people in the state of Washington,″ Don Faulkner, a co-owner of Timid Gun Shop in Seattle, said in an interview. ″The only thing that might affect the people in the state of Washington is the fact that a theft from a gun shop now becomes a federal crime.″

But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms disagrees, and includes Washington on the list of states that must comply with the new regulations.

Seattle police Sgt. Verlin Judd said he was surprised by that, as his unit already checks for virtually all the categories of buyers that the Brady law prohibits from buying a handgun: people charged with or convicted of most felonies, fugitives, illegal aliens, drug addicts and adjudicated mental defectives.

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

That shouldn’t make any difference, Judd contended.

″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 federal authorities deem that unacceptable, he said, ″we’re probably going to challenge that.″

Some of the nation’s most populous states, including California, New York and Florida, won’t be covered, because they already have Brady-approved alternatives such as required gun-buyer permits or background checks.

Handgun Control Inc., the Brady law’s chief proponent during 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 jurisdictions 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 a Colorado, North Carolina, Utah and Washington could become exempt if they pass bills pending in their state legislatures.

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. The waiting period will apply to people in those states who don’t have the permits, ATF spokesman Tom Hill said.

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