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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Public Records > Government Databases > The FBI's Brady Law Database

The FBI's Brady Law Database

Under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, gun dealers are required to submit information about prospective buyers to a federal computer system for review. The system is designed to prevent sales to convicted felons, fugitives from justice, and other disqualified buyers. The information includes the potential purchaser's name, sex, race, date of birth, and state of residence.

One section of the Brady Law requires this National Instant Check System to "destroy all records" relating to background checks that do not raise red flags in the system.

In regulations implementing the Brady Law, however, the FBI provided for an "Audit Log" of background checks. This log is maintained for as long as six months after a firearm transaction.

Though the Audit Log has creditable purposes in auditing and oversight, these values conflict with the interest of civil libertarians in preventing lawful handgun ownership information from being collected by the government. Crediting the government's interest in efficiency over her citizens' interest in privacy, the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia upheld a challenge to the FBI's Brady Law database.


NRA v. Reno No. 99-5270, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (July 11, 2000)

National Instant Criminal Background Check Regulation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice (October 30, 1998)

18 U.S.C. sec. 922(t)(2)(C) (requiring NICS system to destroy all records relating to a firearm transfer that does not violate law)

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[updated 02/18/01]

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