State Senator Proposes Ending 48-Hour Waiting Period For Buying Handguns

Wanggaard Says Waiting Period Hurts People Who Need Guns For Self-Defense

Neil Dorgan (CC-BY-NC-SA)

A Republican state senator is calling for repealing the state’s 48-hour waiting period for buying handguns.

Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said Monday that Wisconsin is one of only six states that requires people to wait 48 hours after they’ve bought a handgun to actually take it home with them. He said the required background check takes only minutes thanks to new technology, and that the two-day waiting period can prevent people from defending themselves.

“We had that happen back in the early ’90s — one case that I’m familiar with, a gal that was physically beaten by her husband,” said Van Wanggaard. “She had a restraining order. She went to get a handgun. She had 48 hours waiting period to get that handgun for self-protection. And in that 48 hours, she and her two kids were killed by her husband. So what about the victims rights here?”

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Supporters of the waiting period say it can save lives by providing a cooling-off period for people who intend to use the gun to kill themselves or others.

Wanggaard said people seeking guns for criminal purposes avoid both the background check and the waiting period by buying them illegally. However, gun control advocates like Jeri Bonavia of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort say the waiting period should be extended to 10 days rather than eliminated. Bonavia also said she’d rather see the Legislature impose universal background checks — a regulation she says would go a long way towards reducing gun violence.

Wanggaard’s bill to eliminate the waiting period will get a hearing in an Assembly committee on Thursday.

Two gun Wisconsin gun store owners contacted for this story said they were neither for or against the waiting period, since it isn’t a significant burden on their business.