Wisconsin to end waiting period for handgun sales
The Wisconsin assembly passed a bill eliminating the 48-hour waiting period for handgun purcheases, clearing the way for Governor Scott Walker to sign it.
Minority Democrats railed against the bill, warning it would enable people caught up in fits of rage or depression to obtain weapons quickly and kill people. Republicans countered that the waiting period inconveniences law-abiding citizens, background checks can now be completed in hours and women could get guns faster to protect themselves and their families from abusers.
“The bill is being made out to be something more than it is,” the bill’s chief Assembly sponsor, Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Rice Lake, said on the Assembly floor. “You still have to pass the background check. You can’t be a criminal. This allows law-abiding citizens to take a gun home the same day. We can’t tell law-abiding citizens they can’t do that.”
The Assembly ultimately passed the bill on a voice vote. Republicans who control the Senate passed the measure in April. It goes next to Walker. Asked in an email whether the governor, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, would sign the bill, spokeswoman Laurel Patrick responded by saying he supports laws that “make it easier for law-abiding citizens to access firearms and difficult for criminals to obtain illegal firearms.”
Ten states and the District of Columbia impose some form of waiting period for buying handguns, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Wisconsin’s 48-hour period has been in effect since 1976, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Republican lawmakers have insisted the waiting period was enacted because background checks amounted to digging through file cards by hand. Today the state Department of Justice can perform background checks using modern computer technology. If a buyer has a pristine record the check can be almost instantaneous, they have said.
Does eliminating the waiting period for handgun sales make a differernce? For a New Jersey woman, it was a matter of life and death:
The move to prioritize how the state deals with permit applications was spurred by the death of Carol Bowne, 39, of Berlin, who was killed on June 3. According to Camden Police, Bowne had a protective order on the suspect in her stabbing, Michael Eitel, 45, who at one point was her live-in boyfriend.
Bowne had applied for a permit to obtain a firearm in April, but as noted by the Courier-Post, the review process had not completed although the New Jersey State Police is obligated to provide an approval or denial within 30 days.
“The tragic murder of Carol Bowne shows that there are sensible changes we should make to public safety laws to help people protect themselves,” said State Sen. Dawn Addiego, R-Burlington, in a statement Friday. “This legislation will make sure that those who need protection the most are given priority when it comes to the lengthy process of applying for a firearms permit.”
It's impossible to say whether Carol Browne would be alive today if she hadn't been forced to wait for a handgun. But she certainly would have had a fighting chance if she was armed against her ex.
At one time, the waiting period for firearms purchases was widespread. But with the advent of electronic verification, the necessity of delaying a handgun purchase has disappeared. The argument that an enraged spouse could go to a gun shop and buy a pistol for immediate use has always been far-fetched, so the idea of a "cooling off" period is bogus. If someone is buying a handgun with murder in mind, he will commit the crime whether there is a 48-hour waiting period or not.