Legislation eliminating Wisconsin’s 48 hour waiting period on handgun purchases is on its way to the governor’s desk.
The state Assembly on Tuesday approved the bill on a voice vote. State Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) said the change is possible because modern technology has eliminated the need to give the Department of Justice two days to conduct a background check. He noted that “10 percent of them are instant, and most on average take only about four hours…so it’s an unnecessary burden on those who can pass a background check and can legally own a firearm.”
There is no similar waiting period for rifle or shotgun purchases.
Democrats called the bill dangerous and argued that the wait provides a valuable cooling off period in domestic violence situations or if someone is considering suicide. State Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) said that, while some may claim that a waiting period is inconvenient, “if you aren’t planning on causing harm to somebody else or to yourself, there is absolutely no reason you can’t wait 48 hours to purchase a handgun.”
Republicans fired back that the legislation would also benefit those same victims and others who feel their personal safety is at risk, by allowing them to quickly get a handgun for protection. Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum, said “the person who’s going to be hopping in their car, going to Cabela’s to legally purchase a handgun, is that woman you talk about who may be in a domestic situation and can now protect herself today.”
The Senate approved the legislation earlier this year and it now heads to Governor Scott Walker. A spokeswoman for the governor said that Walker intends to sign the bill because he “supports laws that make it easier for law-abiding citizens to access firearms and difficult for criminals to obtain illegal firearms.”
The bill was among seven gun-related measures approved by the Assembly on Tuesday. Others included legislation allowing off-duty or retired police officers to carry guns on school grounds and a bill that requires the quick return of firearms seized during criminal investigations if charges are not filed.