Minnesota Suffering From Widespread Waiting Periods for Gun Buyers

Allen Ivanov apologized and claimed he couldn’t explain why he killed three kids and seriously injured another at a home party north of Seattle when he was convicted.

He did, however, mention one aspect that enabled him to carry out the shooting: “the simplicity with which I was able to obtain a rifle.” The then-19-year-old had just recently purchased the assault-style rifle and was so inexperienced with it that he waited in his car outside the party and perused the owner’s handbook before opening fire on his ex-girlfriend and others.

That motif was replicated in America’s most recent wave of mass shootings, which took 35 lives in less than three weeks in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s reigniting the argument over whether waiting periods and prohibitions on young adults purchasing semiautomatic firearms may have saved lives.

After his son Will was seriously wounded during Ivanov’s shooting rampage two years ago, Paul Kramer spearheaded a successful 2018 drive in Washington state to put a 10-day waiting period on semiautomatic rifle purchases, as well as a prohibition on young adults owning such weapons. “Those horrific shootings would not have played out the way they did, and lives would have been spared quite likely.”

Only nine states and the District of Columbia impose specific waiting periods before consumers may buy certain types of guns. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the limits can allow police more time to do background checks and prevent impulsive, emotional persons from instantly getting guns they might use to harm themselves or others.

There is no waiting time with the federal government. A plan that passed the Democrat-controlled House last year would expand the background check review time from three to ten days, but it is opposed by Republicans and is not part of the Senate’s current discussions on how to respond to the recent killings.

Authorities in Tulsa say the shooter who murdered his surgeon, another doctor, and two other people on Wednesday bought an AR-style rifle and a pistol just hours earlier. Michael Louis, 45, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, had recently undergone surgery and blamed his doctor for his persistent back discomfort.

The 18-year-old shooter who killed 21 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, had recently acquired two weapons.

Minnesota and Washington have waiting periods for both handguns and semiautomatic rifles, whereas Maryland and New Jersey exclusively have pistol waiting periods. Purchases of all sorts of firearms in California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia are subject to waiting periods ranging from three to fourteen days.

Several other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts, also require buyers of certain types of weapons to acquire permits first, which may include taking safety seminars. These limitations can be used to simulate waiting times.

Although there is no legislation requiring a waiting time in Oklahoma, following the Tulsa massacre, several Democratic politicians called for a special session of the Legislature to address it, as well as other gun violence issues.

“In two months, Oklahoma children will be back in school,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin. “If we don’t act before then, it will be because to the Legislature’s unwillingness to act.” That’s something I hope all Oklahomans are thinking about.”

They proposed a waiting time for gun sales, raising the state’s minimum age for acquiring weapons from 18 to 21, and enacting a “red flag” rule that allows guns to be temporarily taken from those who may represent a threat to themselves or others. Those plans are unlikely to pass in a Republican-controlled Legislature that has long advocated for the relaxation of state gun rules.

After the Texas massacre last week, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is vying for reelection, said it was too soon to talk about gun legislation.

After a horrific tragedy, Florida stands out as a Republican-led state that enacted gun regulations. After 14 students and three staff members were killed in a massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott approved legislation that included a three-day waiting period and raised the minimum age to buy weapons from 18 to 21.

In an email Friday, Scott’s communications director, McKinley Lewis, said that the senator “encourages all states to look at the steps he took in Florida to decide what works best for their state.”

According to James Densley, co-founder of The Violence Project, a neutral research group that analyzes mass shootings dating back to 1966, around one-third of mass shooters bought a gun within a month of their crimes.

According to a Harvard Business School study published in 2017, waiting period legislation that postpone the purchase of weapons for a few days cut gun murders by about 17%. Waiting periods, on the other hand, are “an ineffectual policy to try to impact gun violence,” according to Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California.

“The primary issue we have is that people who wish to exercise their right to bear guns, especially first-time gun users, are delayed in getting the equipment they need to protect themselves,” Paredes said.

Waiting periods are vital, according to Daniel Webster, co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and it’s clear why more states don’t enforce them: He claims that many gun restrictions are “designed by those who sell firearms.”

Supporters argue that waiting several days, if not a week or more, between the purchase and delivery of a gun allows a person who is upset or contemplating suicide to “cool off.”

“If you get a person who is purchasing a gun to use it to harm others for whatever reason, the fact that they can’t get it in their hands right away may give them an opportunity for circumstances to change by the time they do get it, assuming they’re entitled to get it in the first place,” Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said.

Another benefit of prolonging the waiting period, according to him, is that it gives law enforcement ample time to do a full background check.

At 14 days, Hawaii has the longest waiting period in the United States. The two-week term is arbitrary, according to Alan Beck, an attorney who represents citizens who are contesting different sections of the state’s gun rules. He claimed it won’t affect potential gun purchasers if they already possess a handgun if it’s designed as a cooling down time for someone who is upset.

However, state Senator Karl Rhoads feels the waiting time, in combination with other tough gun control legislation, has succeeded, citing Hawaii’s low homicide rate as evidence.

“If you’re very furious about something and you can go purchase a gun and have it right now,” Rhoads said, “you could act on your urge.” “If you have to wait a few weeks, you could calm down and reconsider.”

Jared Moskowitz, a former Florida state representative who represented Parkland in 2018 and is now running for Congress, believes that waiting periods alone are insufficient. He believes that raising the purchasing age, enacting red flag regulations, expanding mental health expenditures, and improving school security are all critical.

“No single modification will make a significant impact,” Moskowitz added. “However, when all of the changes are tallied together, it is.”

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