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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, July 30, 2001

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

The Brady Check needs a reality check

Recently, this observer traded in some firearms we no longer need for another weapon I really don’t need either. The new firearm is just like the one carried by James Bond -- a .380 Walther PPK semi-automatic pistol. Of course, everyone really needs one of those.

Actually, there is a little more to the story than a desire to own 007’s weapon of choice When I was an intelligence agent stationed in West Germany, we were required to fire our sidearms once a year. Sometimes, we had to share the firing range with our German counterparts. Just as sailors know that anytime two sailboats are headed in the same direction that a race ensues, anytime armed men meet on a firing range a marksmanship contest takes place.

Unfortunately, my partner and I were armed with 2.0-inch barrel .38 Smith & Wesson revolvers. Our German intelligence counterparts sported the 3.2-inch barrel .380 Walther PPK and the German criminal police had the 3.9-inch barrel Walther PP.

When it comes to the firing range, longer barrel length really does make a difference both in aiming and due to the increased number of twists (spin) received by the round before it leaves the barrel. That, plus the fact that my partner and I never practiced between these annual contests, placed us at a distinct disadvantage. Suffice it to say our West German friends shot rings around us.

Call it a case of barrel envy if you will; however, a brand-new Walther PPK is now properly secured in our home. But the most interesting part of trading for the PPK was filling out Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Form ATF F 4473 (5300.9) Part I, also known as the Brady Check.

The upper part of the form asks for the kind of personal data that we all provide on most any government form. But, surprisingly, giving your social security number or your alien registration number or your military ID number is optional.

Obviously, I passed the Brady Check. But here are some of the actual questions you are supposed to answer with either a “yes” or a “no” in order to complete the form. Let’s skip the innocuous questions and begin with question d.

d. Are you a fugitive from justice?

e. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

f. Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective or have you been committed to a mental institution?

g. Have you been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions?

h. Are you an alien illegally in the United States?

i. Have you ever renounced your United States citizenship?

j. Are you subject to a court order restraining your from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child of such partner?

k. Have you been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?

The list goes on and on. But, let’s face it. No criminal is going to answer these questions truthfully unless he or she gave a truthful answer to question f. dealing with being mentally defective.

But I think the Brady Check is incomplete. If an applicant actually entered “yes” as the answer to questions dealing with being a fugitive from justice or being a user of illegal drugs or being an alien illegally in the United States, I think the Brady Check should be amended to add an instruction that says:

“If you answered “yes” to questions d., or e., or h. above, please place your hands on the table in front of you, move your feet back away from the table so the majority of your weight is resting on your hands and spread your feet as far apart as you can. Kindly remain in that position until the police come to take you into custody where you so rightfully belong.”

William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn.

©2001. William Hamilton.

©1999-2024. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:


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