Friday, June 12, 2015

WI: Handgun Waiting Period Reform Goes to Governor Walker

After being diverted to the rules committee, the Wisconsin legislature passed SB 35 in the Assembly, obtained concurrence with the Senate (which had passed it previously) and sent it to Governor Walker for signature.   From
Wisconsin Republicans moved within a step Tuesday of eliminating the state’s decades-old 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases, pushing a bill that would wipe out the statutes through the state Assembly to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.
I have not been able to find a record of the final vote, but I believe that at least some Democrats voted for the bill.   At least one Democrat, Kathleen Vinehout, voted for the bill in the senate.

Current law provides that a federally licensed firearms dealer must request the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a background check of a prospective purchaser before the dealer may transfer a handgun after a sale. Current law also requires the firearms dealer to wait 48 hours after receiving notice that DOJ received the request for a background check, without receiving notice that state or federal law prohibits the purchaser from possessing a firearm, before transferring the handgun  to the purchaser. This bill eliminates the 48-hour waiting period. Under this bill,  the dealer may transfer the handgun immediately after receiving notice from DOJ that the background check indicates that the purchaser is not prohibited from  possessing a firearm.

The old law never made any sense.  The idea that someone, in an emotional fit, would go to a gun store, pay for a handgun, purchase it, then go and commit murder with it is a fantasy.  If a violent person is in an emotional rage, they use whatever is at hand.  The vast majority of murderers already have criminal records, and are not allowed to buy guns from federal dealers.

The law did not slow down anyone from buying a rifle or a shotgun.   It is preposterous to believe that someone intent on murder would pass up a cheaper rifle or shotgun if a handgun were denied them.

To add insult, the law made no differentiation between someone who already had a gun, and someone who did not.   What is the point of denying a gun to someone, for 48 hours, when they already own a gun safe full of them?   A federal court has acknowledged this.  California's extreme waiting period, which had crept from overnight to 15 days, and was belatedly reduced to 10 days, was struck down as unconstitutional for people who already own guns.   The judge in the case noted that there is no evidence that "waiting periods" had any benefit for people who already owned firearms. 

John Lott studied the effect of waiting periods.  He did not find any reduction in crime rates associated with them (page 20, More Guns Less Crime, Third Edition).

The real effect of the law was this: it made it harder for people to exercise their rights.  It chilled the exercise of the second amendment.  I suspect that was always the real intent.

 ©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

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