TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Nov. 30 marks the 29th anniversary of the United States’ national background check requirement to purchase firearms. The law, known as the Brady Bill, or more formally as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, was passed by U.S. Congress in 1993.

Former president Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, and it took effect at the end of February in 1994.

Under the Brady Law, Americans purchasing firearms mandated a federal background check and required a five-day wait before guns could be bought.

In 1998, the law was used to create the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which operates as a registry system for firearm dealers, manufacturers, and importers and requires them to perform background checks before selling a firearm. The NICS is not technically a firearm registry, but is instead a list of people who are banned from owning or possessing a gun.

The NICS database is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The registry, according to federal statute, lists people who:

  • Has been convicted of a crime and imprisoned for a year or more
  • Are fugitives from justice
  • Are using or addicted to controlled substances unlawfully
  • Is not in the United States legally
  • Has been discharged dishonorably from the U.S. Military
  • Has renounced their U.S. citizenship
  • Is currently subject to a restraining order to stop them from “harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such partner”
  • Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • Has been indicted for a crime and imprisoned for more than one year

Since the Brady Law was enacted, state-level firearm regulation has been inconsistent, in terms of not all states have the same rules. However, in July, U.S. Congress passed new gun control reforms, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Since July, continued gun reform efforts in Congress have included a potential ban on assault weapons, with support of President Joe Biden, though the potential for passage is currently unclear.