A national police organization on Friday labeled as unworkable a plan favored by the Bush administration to computerize criminal records to allow "point-of-sale" checks of prospective handgun purchasers.

Records of a suspect's arrest and the disposition of the case are usually in different locations and often not automated, said Lee P. Brown, New York City police commissioner. Complete criminal histories plus a national index of the names of defendants must be devised before such a system could work, he said.A bill to require the Justice Department to set up a nationwide "point-of-sale" hotline is a "political smokescreen," said Brown, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Brown and other officials of the group, which represents local police executives, said it could take more than a decade to implement a computerized system called for in the bill, sponsored by Rep. Harley Staggers Jr., D-W.Va.

Acknowledging it could take years to implement such a system, the Bush administration favors the "point-of-sale" approach over a seven-day waiting period for handgun purchasers that is being pushed in Congress.

The police group said it supports the so-called "Brady bill," named for former White House press secretary James S. Brady, left paralyzed by the man who shot President Reagan in 1981.