Americans face a five-day wait for buying guns

THE FIRST big national gun- control initiative in the United States since the 1960s comes into effect today. Under the so- called 'Brady Bill', Americans wanting to buy a handgun will have to wait five days before they can get it. This will allow police to run checks to see if the buyer has a criminal record or known mental problems. The bill aims to curb crime in one of the world's most violent nations, where around 60 people die of gunshot wounds every day. According to President Bill Clinton, 'The law will prevent thousands of handgun murders.'

Murder will be far from the President's mind when he meets John Major in Pittsburgh today. The Prime Minister, turning the tables on the thousands of Americans who cross the Atlantic every year to dig for their ancestral roots, is coming to see where an ancestor worked on blast furnaces for steel mills. Mr Major's paternal grandparents lived in the Pittsburgh area in the late 19th century. During Mr Major's whirlwind visit the two leaders will discuss Bosnia and Northern Ireland, among other topics.

South Africa will close the final chapter in its colonial history today by hauling down its flag over Walvis Bay after 84 years of rule and handing the territory to Namibia. Namibia's President, Sam Nujoma, who grew up in Walvis Bay, will officiate at the ceremony.

When Namibia gained independence from South Africa in March 1990, Pretoria kept Walvis Bay and President F W de Klerk's government said the enclave would not be returned. But the African National Congress and its allies forced the issue before the multi-party negotiating forum and the government was made to concede its return.

A circuit judge in Manassas, Virginia, is to decide today whether to release Lorena Bobbitt from a mental hospital. She has been there since she was acquitted on grounds of insanity last month of malicious wounding following a trial for cutting off her husband's penis. Her lawyers said the doctors who examined her recommended she be released.

Today sees the return of another case that attracted a blaze of media attention. A new trial date is to be set today in Los Angeles for the Menendez brothers, who admitted killing their wealthy Beverly Hills parents. A mistrial was declared last month after two juries deadlocked on first-degree murder charges. The prosecutors who failed to win convictions in the murder trial were removed last week.

In Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela, the ANC president, meets Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the president of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party, tomorrow. Mr Mandela hopes to convince his main black political rival to contest South Africa's first all-race elections in April and help bring peace to the country. Chief Buthelezi and his white right-wing allies in the Freedom Alliance have warned of civil war. They say that they cannot take part in the April vote, complaining that the interim constitution ignores their demands for ethnic self- determination.

The US film director, Steven Spielberg - whose bonanza at the box office has made him the bete noir of defenders of French culture - will meet President Francois Mitterrand tomorrow. The French government successfully fought to have cultural goods, including film, kept out of the Gatt world trade agreement last year. France, backed by other European nations, argued for some form of protectionism to stop an invasion of Hollyood productions, which would harm European film and television.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific