WASHINGTON -- Ending a nearly seven-year political battle over handgun control legislation, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady bill into law Tuesday.
The most far-reaching nationwide gun control measure enacted in at least a decade, it is named for former White House press secretary James Brady, who said it was 'a very important day...for America and for America's children.'
At an elaborate and at times emotional ceremony in the East Room, Clinton said, 'The Brady bill has finally become law because... grassroots America changed its mind and demanded that Congress' pass it.
'America won this battle. Americans are finally fed up with violence...and we know that this bill will make a difference,' Clinton declared in urging further efforts to combat violent crime. 'We cannot stop here.'
The president was joined by Brady and his wife Sarah, who campaigned feverishly for the law that will impose a five-day waiting period and background check on the purchase of handguns. It takes effect in 90 days.
'It's a special day for us all,' Sarah Brady said.
The Senate, which passed the bill last week after Democrats squashed a Republican filibuster, is a personal victory for Brady, who was gravely injured and permanently disabled in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
In a brief, moving speech, he spoke of the tragic cost of gun violence.
'Too many young people believe that a gun is an answer to their problems. I can tell them it is not,' said Brady. 'This is a very important day for me and for Sarah...but it is an even more important day for America and for America's children.'