Background: Handgun sales have been rising in California and around the nation, and 200 million firearms are now in private hands. Advocates of gun control measures, including the Brady bill, which would require a waiting period on handgun purchases, have seized on rising urban violence to press their case. Opponents contend that restrictions could interfere with citizens’ self-defense.

President Bush does not support the Brady bill. He favors mandatory jail terms for use of semiautomatic firearms during a violent crime or drug felony, and for possession of illegal firearms by felons. He favors prohibiting the importation, manufacture or sale of high-capacity gun magazines. His Administration has suspended the importation of several types of military-style weapons.

Patrick J. Buchanan is opposed to all forms of gun control, including waiting periods.

Bill Clinton supports the Brady bill. He favors a nationwide massive gun buy-back program. He supports a ban on assault weapons but is undecided on a ban on the manufacture of handguns. He would favor a registration bill for current gun owners.


Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. supports the Brady bill and supports trying a five-year moratorium on the sale of guns. He backs mandatory prison sentences for anyone who uses a gun in the commission of a crime.

Hand Gun Sales

Number of handguns sold per year in California from 1986 to 1991:

1986: 266,480


1987: 273,628

1988: 291,171

1989: 333,069

1990: 333,295

1991: 329,133

Source: California Dept. of Justice