A bill that eliminates the 48-hour waiting period for handguns purchases is now moving to the full Senate, the last step before landing in Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.
The bill, which would eliminate the 48-hour waiting period between getting a background check and purchasing a handgun, passed through a Senate committee last week and is now headed to the full chamber. The Assembly approved the bill Tuesday.
The bill would instead allow dealers to give the handgun to the person buying it right after the state’s Department of Justice says the person is allowed to buy a handgun, according to a Legislative Reference Bureau analysis.
Walker voiced some support for the bill in a recent interview with the National Rifle Association’s news network, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. In the interview, Walker noted Wisconsin has been “the leader when it comes to freedom” since he became governor.
“We’ve gone big and bold with a lot of issues,” Walker said. “That’s one of those where with new technology, we want to make sure the bad guys don’t get firearms, and the good guys do.”
Current law mandates a 48-hour waiting period before a person can buy a handgun, giving the state’s Justice Department enough time to run background checks on the individual.
But given today’s technology, that waiting period is outdated, according to Jeff Nass, the legislative affairs liaison for Wisconsin’s National Rifle Association chapter, which supports the bill.
Nass said the past system consisted of indexed charts, and officers were required to call counties to perform these checks, Nass said. Today, he said, the entire system is online, making the waiting period an outdated procedure that’s no longer viable.
“Currently, there is a 48-hour wait to obtain a pistol, but you can take a rifle or shot gun home immediately if you pass the background check,” Nass said.
Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, however, said the 48-hour waiting period is an essential cooling off period that maintains a more checked and secure system. The background checks are necessary to close all loopholes, Sargent said.
“The reason we have a 48-hour waiting period is to protect our individual freedom and security as members of society,” Sargent said.
The waiting period does not exist in 42 states, Nass said. He said some individuals have to travel long distances to obtain a gun and may have to do two trips because of the waiting period, which can be costly.
Moreover, the waiting period prevents people who wish to protect themselves from acquiring a gun quickly, Nass said. He said domestic violence victims are an example of such individuals, and the bill might make it easier for them to obtain handguns.
“The 48-hour wait hurts potential victims,” Nass said.
Sargent said she believes each individual has the constitutional right to own firearms and to feel protected, but the fact that an individual would be in a situation where he or she needs to own a firearm immediately draws suspicion, Sargent said.
She said she would like to institute a 48-hour waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns, to ensure safety at the highest degree and is opposing the bill.
“Regardless if you’re a student, a mom or a person working three jobs, this bill affects everybody,” Sargent said.