Vanderbilt Law Review


Amy M. Pepke

First Page



In late 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act ("Brady Bill")' as an amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968. By mid-1994, several suits had been initiated challenging the constitutionality of the Bill. Although the plaintiffs in each case brought several claims, the most viable and controversial challenge centers on the Tenth Amendment. Plaintiffs have argued that certain provisions of the Bill unconstitutionally commandeer state resources by imposing mandatory duties on the chief law enforcement officer ("CLEO") of the place of residence of the prospective gun purchaser. Supreme Court decisions on tenth amendment questions have been ambiguous and at times inconsistent. The first two federal district courts to consider the constitutionality of the Brady Bill split over the tenth amendment issue. The cases that followed in other districts have relied heavily on the reasoning and conclusions of these first two cases.

The second Part of this Note will give a complete background of the Brady Bill, as well as a depiction of the Supreme Court's fragmented tenth amendment history up to and including the most recent tenth amendment case, New York v. United States. Next, this Note describes in detail the two cases that created the district split regarding the constitutionality of the Brady Bill, Printz v. United States and Koog v. United States. Part III includes an analysis of the lower courts' holdings, including an interpretation of the Brady Bill's statutory language and a constitutional analysis under New York. Finally, this Note provides two suggestions that would remedy the tenth amendment issues that currently plague the Brady Bill, over which the lower courts have split.