U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- UPDATE: While Georgia authorities are still investigating the murderous shooting spree at three Atlanta-area spas, President Joe Biden is reportedly considering “executive orders” on gun control, now that there has been another mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.
It still isn’t clear whether the accused Atlanta gunman, Robert Aaron Long, will face “hate crime” charges because six of his victims were Asian women, according to WXIA News. But he has been charged with eight counts of murder following the March 16 mayhem
Various members of Congress have been tossing ideas around, including calls for a national waiting period on firearms sales. Biden wants Senate action on two House measures, H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446, which deal with background checks. He has also revived his call for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” following the Colorado shooting. Standing in the way could be Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, a pro-gun lawmaker from West Virginia.
Vanity Fair is reporting that Manchin is not interested in supporting either House measure.
He was quoted by the magazine stating, “I come from a gun culture. I’m a law-abiding gun owner.”
However, waiting period legislation could gain momentum because Long bought his gun on the same day he allegedly committed the crimes. In Colorado, the accused killer there bought his gun a week prior to the Monday shooting.
As earlier reported, the Washington Post quoted Georgia State Rep. David Wilkerson observing, “I think a waiting period just makes sense.” When the Portland, Oregonian picked up the story, it’s headline reflected a possible push for a national wait: “Atlanta shootings could renew push for gun waiting periods.”
But the WaPo included this signal in its story: “Gun control advocates say mandating a window of even a couple of days between the purchase of a gun and taking possession can give more time for background checks and create a “cooling off” period for people considering harming themselves or someone else. Studies suggest that waiting periods may help bring down firearm suicide rates by up to 11% and gun homicides by about 17%, according to the Giffords Center.”
Giffords is a gun-control lobbying group founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords and her former astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, now a United States senator from Arizona.
Gun rights organizations have historically opposed waiting periods. Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, was quoted by the newspaper observing “A right delayed is a right denied.”
Slate, a liberal publication, published an article lamenting that women seeking abortions must wait longer than a potential gun buyer in Georgia.
“Georgia requires no waiting period between the purchase of a firearm and its transfer to the buyer,” Slate complained. “Unlike those in states with stricter gun regulations, lawmakers in Georgia trust that people who buy deadly weapons are responsible enough to decide to buy a gun and receive that gun on the very same day…They do not have the same confidence in pregnant women.”
When it was originally conceived, the National Instant Check System (NICS) was offered as an alternative to a national waiting period. In the years since its inception, the NICS system has conducted more than 380 million background checks. The newspaper said at least four states—Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont—are considering some form of background check.
Earlier, the Durango, Colorado Herald indicated legislation could be on the horizon in the Centennial State, and that was prior to the Boulder mass shooting.
H.R. 1446 is essentially a waiting period bill, allowing up to at least ten days for the check to be completed. While it was not noticed as much as the other measure, H.R. 8, during House hearings last week, following the Georgia incident could thrust it into the spotlight.
Both bills were passed out of the House and now face an uncertain future in the Senate.
The waiting period concept goes back generations, invariably coupled with the “cooling off” sentiment fueled by anecdotal tales of people buying guns and murdering their spouses or committing suicide. While there have been such cases, they are not commonplace.
The debate so far hasn’t touched on what may be the most important consideration, and that is the exercise of a constitutionally enumerated fundamental right—to keep and bear arms—as opposed to treating that right as a government-regulated privilege. Where is the line drawn? Why should anyone’s exercise of any individual right be subject to legislative whim? Do waiting period proponents understand the difference between a right and a privilege?
Out in Colorado, State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial), who lost a son to the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, acknowledged in the WaPo story, “This isn’t going to end the crisis of gun violence in our society, but it will help to curtail it.”
But will it? According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2012, the year Sullivan’s son was murdered, Colorado reported 160 murders of which 92 involved firearms. In 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, the state saw 209 slayings including 135 involving guns.
California, which has a waiting period, saw 1,869 murders in 2012, including 1,304 involving guns, according to FBI data. In 2019, the state saw 1,679 killings, including 1,142 involving firearms, the FBI report says.
Whether those numbers are meaningful depends upon interpretation. The nation has seen a downtrend in homicides, although last year may throw the data in the opposite direction, and there is always the slaughter in Chicago to tilt the national data.
Some politicians and interest groups are insisting the Atlanta shooting spree was a hate crime. If that’s the case, it will be hard to convince anyone that a waiting period would have made any difference.
On July 28, 2006, a killer identified as Naveed Afzal Haq drove from the Tri-Cities area of south-central Washington more than 200 miles to Seattle, where he entered the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and opened fire. He had purchased two semi-automatic pistols and had waited through Washington State’s mandatory waiting period for people who did not possess a concealed pistol license at the time, taking delivery on July 27.
Haq had, according to a history of the incident at Wikipedia, allegedly chosen his target by researching on the Internet. The incident had all the earmarks of a hate crime, with Haq declaring he was a “Muslim American…angry at Israel.” He killed one woman, Pamela Waechter, and wounded four others. After a standoff that unfolded on live television, Haq was taken into custody. He was ultimately sent to prison to life without parole plus 120 years.
If the Atlanta shooting spree was a hate crime, the perpetrator didn’t just act on the spur of a moment. Even if there were a waiting period in Georgia, it may not have prevented what happened. To suggest otherwise would play only to an agenda or a narrative, many in the Second Amendment community would argue.
About Dave Workman