Study Finds Laws Driving
Gun Dealers Out
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The number of legal gun dealers in the United States has dropped by 72 percent since enactment of the 1994 Brady law, which required handgun sellers to make background checks on buyers, according to a report released on Thursday.
Most of those who abandoned the business were small, one-person operations selling guns out of homes or garages, according to the Violence Policy Center which compiled the figures.
It found that the number of federally licensed gun dealers dropped from 245,628 to 69,591 in the six years after the Brady law and the 1994 Crime Bill were put on the books.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act established a national system of background checks and waiting periods for those buying handguns from federally licensed firearms dealers. The waiting period provision was later phased out.
The bill was named for former presidential press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
Marty Langley, an analyst at the Washington-based policy center, told Reuters that despite the drop in the number of legal dealers, 56 percent of the remaining ones are still what the group calls ``kitchen table'' operations rather than stores or shops.
He said the group believes such one-person operations need closer scrutiny.
The report was released by a coalition of Midwest U.S. gun control groups.
``The study shows, pure and simple, that the Brady bill and other gun dealer regulations worked,'' said Thom Mannard, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. ``Not only has the Brady law stopped criminals from buying guns; it has reduced the indiscriminate home sales of guns, especially from kitchen tables and garages.
``The impact of these laws in reducing the number of gun dealers continues to be one of the most important -- and little noticed -- victories in the effort to reduce firearms violence in America,'' he added.
During his presidential election campaign, Texas Gov. George Bush said he was opposed to photo-identification licensing in gun sales but backed instant background checks for buyers at gun shows and said existing laws needed to be more strongly enforced.

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