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Gun Dealers Bewildered as Brady Law Takes Effect Feb. 28

February 20, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Brady law’s five-day waiting period for handgun purchases takes effect in a week, and confusion abounds among gun dealers and law enforcement officials preparing for paperwork and background checks.

″I don’t know anything,″ said Ron English of Olde English Gun Shoppe in Tipp City, Ohio, near Dayton, just 10 days before the waiting-period part of the law kicks in Feb. 28. ″The imperial wizards in Washington don’t disseminate information to the field. The net result will be a bottleneck until everything gets ironed out.″

Even the federal official in charge of implementing the law expects preparations to go down to the wire.

″In a lot of places, it’s going to be a photo finish,″ said Robert Creighton of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Dan Grogan, owner of The Gun and Tackle Store in Dallas, said he doesn’t have a copy of the form ATF expects gun dealers to use to report a handgun buyer’s name and date of birth.

But he does know he’s supposed to send it to the chief law enforcement officer of the city or county where the person lives. ″I don’t see that it’s going to be a big problem,″ he said.

ATF spokesman Jack Killorin said all federally licensed gun dealers should receive a package with a copy of the form in the next few days.

Creighton said the biggest issues will be making sure the chief law enforcement officers (CLEOs) designated to do background checks know they are the designees, and letting gun dealers know where to send the Brady forms.

The CLEO has five days after receiving notice of a prospective gun sale to conduct the background check. The purchase can be stopped if the buyer is found to be a felon or charged with a felony, a fugitive, an illegal alien, a drug user or addict, an adjudicated mental incompetent, or someone dishonorably discharged from the armed forces. If no move is made to stop the sale in five days, the dealer can sell the gun.

Although police pushed for the opportunity to do the background checks, some were expressing bewilderment about what will happen Feb. 28.

″There’s supposed to be a background check but I haven’t seen anything about how specific that needs to be,″ said police Chief Tom Davidson of Tipp City, a town of about 7,000 people.

The law says the CLEO doing the check - and state and local officials are supposed to determine who that is - must make a ″reasonable effort″ to check the gun buyer’s background.

″We expect a good-faith effort″ that would include a check of the National Crime Information Center computer system, Creighton said.

″You run a criminal records check and it comes back with an arrest - say it’s a violent crime, an armed robbery,″ he said. ″Now you have to follow through to see if the individual was actually convicted. The majority of those records don’t show it to conclusion, so the CLEO has to make phone calls and pursue it.″

Sheriff J.B. Smith of Smith County in eastern Texas said he knows what to do, but is not sure how to accomplish it.

″We don’t know how we’re going to absorb this because we’re so snowed under now,″ said Smith. ″We’ll have to pull someone in from their normal duties to run this because it’s now the law.″

In Seattle, police Sgt. Verlin Judd said he was unsure if the Brady waiting period even applied to Washington, since it has its own five-day wait and background check.

But Washington is covered, Killorin said. Its law requires a check by police or sheriffs where the gun store is located, while Brady says it must be done by officials where the buyer lives.

Ohio is trying to develop a statewide system in which the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification would do all the checks, said Dayton police Chief James E. Newby.

″I’m thankful we’re going to have the state system, because it would stretch the police,″ said Newby, adding that Ohio may impose a fee on gun buyers to cover the cost.

The ATF advocates nominal fees, said Creighton, noting that some existing background check systems already impose them.

″In most jurisdictions, the attitude is, ’Why should the taxpayer bear the cost of this if someone wants to buy a gun?‴ Creighton said.

Don Faulkner, a co-owner of Timid Gun Shop in Seattle, said a five-day wait and background check is no big deal, based on his experience with the state program begun in the mid-1980s.

″We get holds and rejections all the time, so we know that they are doing the checking and we’re pleased with this,″ said Faulkner, who explained that the store’s name, Timid, stands for owners Tina, Mike and Don, and not fearful people.

″There’s not a legitimate gun dealer in the state that isn’t pleased with it. We do not want criminals to get our guns.″

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