Friday, February 27, 2015

WI: Bill to Reform Handgun Waiting Period in Play

Back in 1976, when there was no Internet, the fairness doctrine muzzled free speech, and the Media was celebrating their power to overthrow a President, Wisconsin passed a requirement that people purchasing handguns from federally licensed dealers had to wait 48 hours to take possession of them.

"Waiting periods" were another trendy law called for by a media culture intent on banning handgun possession from the public.  There had been waiting periods in California for a number of years.  The law was based on a dubious theory that I call the "Progressive Elite" theory of homicide.  The idea was, that a person, in a fit of rage, would buy a handgun to commit murder.  The waiting period was supposed to give a person time to "cool off" before they did the evil deed.

It 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 to anyone with common sense, 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 waiting periods is to make it harder for ordinary people to exercise their rights.  It is a clear infringement to delay the exercise of a right.  I suffered under the insane 15 day waiting period in California.  Handgun purchases became much more difficult.  I was working as a military game warden as an extra duty, and was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.  I found a rare and desirable handgun (Colt Python 6 inch) in a shop a 80 miles away.  I had to pay for the Python, then wait two weeks, then make the 160 mile round trip to pick up the firearm.   The real effect of the law was this: it make it harder for people to exercise their rights, and it chilled the exercise of the second amendment.  I suspect that was the real intent.

The Wisconsin legislature has taken notice of the futility and costs of the silly waiting period law.  They probably noticed the federal court ruling in California.  A bill, AB49, has been introduced to eliminate the counterproductive waiting period.  The bill has wide support, with 32 co-sponsors in the Assembly.   A list of people on the committee that will be hearing the bill on February 26th, with contact information, is available at the

From AB49:

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau  
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 transferringthe 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.
There are 99 seats in the Wisconsin Assembly.   I counted 36 Democrat members of the Assembly.   There appear to be 33 Senate seats, with on vacancy.  14 of the 33 senators are Democrats, 19 are Republicans, with a Republican being elected to fill a vacancy this month.

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

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'd like to note that although California has struck down the waiting period for gun owners that already have purchases on file, the state has done nothing to correct this. So even though its been found unconstitutional it still hasn't changed the process.