Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Could removing the 48-hour waiting period for gun sales lead to more crime in Wisconsin?

South Dakota removed it's 48-hour waiting period in 2009, and violent crime went up by 70 percent

For forty years, a Wisconsin law requiring a 48-hour waiting period between the time a background check is performed to the time a person acquires a gun for purchase has been in place.

And for forty years, that law has operated without a problem of any kind.

No one has had an issue with the waiting period, besides those who have felt some minor inconvenience by it. Waiting two days for a weapon that can impose fatal bodily damage on another person doesn’t seem too cumbersome, and few would argue that it violates any personal liberties to require such a wait.

Yet Gov. Scott Walker and several Republican leaders in the state legislature are aiming to eliminate the ban completely.
”We’ve been the leader when it comes to freedom over the last four years,” Walker said in the interview, citing Wisconsin’s passage of a concealed-carry law and another law that protects homeowners from prosecution when they shoot people they perceive as a threat. Of dropping the waiting period, Walker said, “I think we want to be a leader in this area as well.”
Of course, this isn’t really about “freedom.” It’s about appeasing the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association the year before a presidential election, which stands steadfast against any ban on gun ownership of any kind, even those that aren’t bans at all. No one is restricted from owning a weapon because of the 48-hour waiting period -- rather, they just have to wait two days to get the weapon they want.

Could lifting this ban be dangerous? There’s reason to think so. South Dakota might give us some clues on what to expect. The state dropped its own 48-hour waiting period in 2009.

Stats obtained from
From 2009 to 2013, the rate of violent crime in South Dakota went up by more than 70 percent, from 185.6 incidents per 100,000 citizens per year to 316.5 incidents per 100,000.

Correlation and causation aren’t the same thing. There may be reasons behind this spike in crime that have nothing to do with the lifting of the 48-hour ban. But it’s still worth discussing and noting that the instant-access to guns that South Dakota implemented didn’t lead to a safer state overall.

Nor did concealed carry create a safer Wisconsin. In 2011, when Walker signed concealed carry into law, he issued a strong statement saying that, “By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.”

That wasn’t the case whatsoever. From 2011 to 2013, the violent crime rate in Wisconsin went up by more than 17 percent. The rate of murders committed by guns in our state went up by more than 28 percent.

The bottom line? Concealed carry didn’t make the state safer, as Walker had predicted it would. Violent crime and murder went up, specifically murder committed by guns.

Whenever we talk about guns, it’s important to discuss gun rights. I do believe that there is an inherent right to defend oneself, and that every person (within reason) should have the ability to purchase weapons to do so. As with every right, restrictions to limit abuses of that right are sometimes justified. I can’t erroneously yell “bomb” on a plane and claim my free speech rights protect me; I can’t deny an officer of the law the ability to search my home through Fourth Amendment protections if there’s a blood trail leading to my doorstep.

Likewise, reasonable restrictions to the right of defense should be enforced. Allowing a 48-hour period of time to remain in place doesn’t restrict someone of the right to defend themselves. It allows cooler heads to prevail when someone is so mad they could do something very wrong.

Removing this waiting period is the wrong move to make. Gov. Walker should ignore his presidential ambitions for a moment, disregard his NRA lobbyists for the time being, and issue a statement saying he won’t sign any bill into law that removes the 40-year old 48-hour waiting period for guns.

For some reason, that seems unlikely to happen.

1 comment:

  1. Well written. We used to rank 39th in gun deaths have you found current rankings? I like your statement that correlation is not causation. However when you look at other states that reduced restrictions on gun sales and see similar results one has to think where there is gun smoke there is gun fire.