The debate over waiting periods and whether they are effective might take on a new dimension in Illinois, after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday signed a bill establishing a 72-hour wait for the purchase of all firearms, according to the State Journal-Register.
Waiting periods for buying guns are popular on the political Left. The claim is that they save lives. Studies say so. But is that accurate?
According to a CNN report in October of last year, waiting periods could save an estimated 1,700 lives annually. That pronouncement was based on a study by the Harvard Business School that had just been released.
But a different perspective came in a 2015 report from Politifact Wisconsin after state Sen. Van Wanggaard insisted that there was no statistical evidence that a handgun waiting period “reduces violence whatsoever.” After going through a bunch of data, Politifact summed up: “In a nutshell, except for suicide, the studies show Wanggaard’s claim about waiting periods and violence is largely correct.”
In New Jersey, where citizens must wait to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun, the opinion among Second Amendment activists is that the law costs lives, and they point to the tragic story of Carol Bowne as proof. While she was waiting for her permit to be approved by the police in Berlin Township, she was murdered by a man against whom she had a restraining order. She died from stab wounds in the driveway of her home.
If waiting periods on guns are okay, what about waiting periods on other things?
What about having to wait before being able to obtain legal counsel in the event of an arrest? Imagine the public reaction to having police tell suspects, “Sure you can get an attorney, but you have to wait 48 hours and in the meantime, you can chat with us.”
How about the sensitive subject of abortion? Here’s what the American Civil Liberties Union has said: “Government-mandated delays serve no purpose other than to make obtaining an abortion more difficult, dangerous, and expensive for the women who are least able to bear the burden of an unwanted pregnancy.”
So, waiting periods are good, but then they are bad, depending upon the issue.