It’s been 20 years since the Brady bill passed. Here are 11 ways gun politics have changed.

Updated at 12:30 p.m.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which went into effect in 1994. The law -- named after James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981 -- made background checks a requirement for gun purchases from licensed dealers. From the law's passage until 2009 -- the latest year statistics are available -- over 107 million Brady-mandated background checks were conducted.


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on curbing gun violence at the White House in January, 2013.  (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque )

Gun politics have also changed since the passage of the Brady bill. Here are a few notable examples.

1. When gun policy gets passed, it's usually about loosening gun restrictions, not tightening them.

The New York Times did a study in December 2013 analyzing gun policy since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School the previous year, a year when 71 other children were killed by gun violence. Around the country, 1,500 state gun bills were proposed, 109 became law, and 70 of those new laws loosened existing gun legislation. According to a Gallup poll from January 30, 2014, 55 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with existing gun policy.

2. 242 members of the House had an "A rating" from the National Rifle Association in December 2012.

46 senators did. 

3. In 2013, a plan to expand background checks failed.

Fifty-four senators were for it, 46 were against -- and it couldn't pass without a 60-vote threshold. Only 56 senators voted yes on the Brady bill. The background checks bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), would have required checks on all commercial gun sales, and was a part of the big federal push on gun violence policy after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The president did sign 25 executive actions related to gun-violence prevention in 2013, however.

4. In 1998, gun violence was seen as the most pressing issue in the country, according to a Gallup survey.

In October 2013, 1 percent of respondents saw violence and crime as the most pressing issue in the country.

5. Opinions of the National Rifle Association are about the same as they were 20 years ago.


December 2012, Gallup

In a 1993 Gallup survey, 55 percent of the country had a favorable opinion of the NRA. At the end of 2012, 54 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of them.

6. In the 1993-1994 election cycle, the NRA spent $2.3 million.

In the 2011-2012 election cycle, they spent $24.8 million.

7. New gun-control groups are starting to spend big money, too.

Gabby Giffords, who was shot at a constituent meeting in Arizona in 2011, started Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun-control focused 501(c)4. The group raised nearly $12.5 million this year. Michael Bloomberg started Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2006. The organization has spent nearly $2 million lobbying since its formation. According to the National Journal, "gun-control groups spent five times as much on federal lobbying in 2013 as they did the year before, but the NRA and others still outpaced them by more than 7-to-1."

8. In 1993, 34 percent of Americans thought it was more important to protect the right to own guns than control gun ownership.


Pew Research Center, December 2013

In 2013, 48 percent of Americans thought that.

9. Firearm homicides reached a peak of 17,075 in 1993.

In 2011, about 9,900 people were murdered by guns, according to FBI data. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 18,253 gun homicides happened in 1993, while 11,078 gun murders occurred in 2010.

10. In October 2011, 47 percent of Americans said they had a gun in the home -- the highest number since 1993.


Gallup, October 2011

11. Things that didn't exist in 1994 that politicians have to think about now: online gun sales, 3-D printing and smart guns.

 

Must-reads: 

"After government shutdown, dozens of lawmakers gave to charity" -- Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

"Obama Launches Program for Disadvantaged Minority Youth" -- Carol E. Lee and Jared A. Favole, The Wall Street Journal

"Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ" -- Spencer Ackerman and James Ball, The Guardian

 

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.

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Jaime Fuller · February 27, 2014