"It's just plain common sense," President Reagan said yesterday, "that there be a waiting period to allow local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on those who wish to buy a handgun."
With that indisputable sentence, the former president endorsed the Brady Bill -- a piece of legislation carrying the name of Reagan's former press secretary who bears grievous lifelong injuries as a result of a bullet fired by a deranged man 10 years ago in the attempt on Reagan's life.
One despairs to think how many lives might have been saved, or how many people might have been spared Jim Brady's life as a cripple, if Reagan had stated this "plain common sense" eight years ago in order to push through the mandatory waiting-period bill. It remains to be seen whether President Bush will now see the "plain common sense" of the Brady Bill and give it his endorsement, which would virtually assure passage.
The Brady Bill would impose a national requirement of a seven-day waiting period prior to purchase of a handgun in order to give authorities a chance to check the record of the applicant. This represents at least a beginning toward the only kind of gun control that will ever be effective -- national control. No matter how determined a state may be in controlling firearms, as long as people can buy them in other states and freely transport them across state lines, state legislation will be only marginally effective.