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Move to Reinstitute Wisconsin's Handgun Waiting Period

State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, has introduced legislation to restore Wisconsin's two-day waiting period for handgun purchases. Credit: Eric Tadsen
State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, has introduced legislation to restore Wisconsin's two-day waiting period for handgun purchases. Credit: Eric Tadsen
September 8, 2015

MADISON, Wis. – State Rep. Chris Taylor, a Madison Democrat, has introduced legislation that would reinstate Wisconsin's 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

In mid-June, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation repealing the state's decades-long, two-day waiting period.

Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature maintain background checks now can be done in minutes, so the waiting period is no longer necessary. Taylor disagrees.

"That's absolutely not true,” she stresses. “What the waiting period is about is trying to prevent these people who get incensed, or who are in a certain moment, from inflicting harm to themselves or to other people. That was the point."

Pointing out that someone is killed with a gun in Wisconsin every 20 hours on average, Taylor says this is not the time to be making it even easier to buy a handgun.

She says the original law was passed not to allow more time for a background check, but to force a cooling off period on people who make a highly emotional decision to buy a handgun.

According to Taylor, restoring the state's 48-hour waiting period is a small step Wisconsin can take to directly address the issue of gun violence in the nation.

"And now we have a new study that says, in fact, states that have waiting periods have a lower incidence of suicide, so it makes a lot of sense,” she points out. “This is about preventing these impulsive, horrible acts of violence."

There have been more than 100 homicides in Milwaukee so far this year, compared with 86 during all of 2014. Overall, Wisconsin had 111 gun homicides last year.

Wisconsin's 48-hour waiting period was passed overwhelmingly by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Patrick Lucey in March 1976. Taylor says the intent of the law was very clear, back in the '70s.

"We needed a cooling off period,” she states. “Having a cooling off period might prevent somebody impulsively at the spur of the moment from getting a handgun, and either causing harm to themselves or to others, and that rationale is still present today."


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI