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Waiting Periods

In the 1960s and 1970s bills to implement federal gun registration and licensing were soundly defeated in Congress, never to resurface as politically viable proposals. The broadest federal gun legislation currently under consideration is a national waiting period for gun purchases. Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) has introduced legislation to require a national seven-day waiting period for handgun transfers, which would be permitted only after police officials had an opportunity to check an applicant's background. Because the bill applies to all gun transfers, it would even compel a wife to get police permission before receiving a handgun as a gift from her husband.[153]


However, statistical evidence shows no correlation between waiting periods and homicide rates.[154] The image of a murderously enraged person leaving home, driving to a gun store, finding one open after 10 p.m. (when most crimes of passion occur), buying a weapon, and driving home to kill is a little silly.[155] Of course, a licensing system is bound to deny some purchasers an opportunity to buy, but only the most naive rejected purchaser would fail to eventually find a way to acquire an illegal weapon.
In addition, waiting periods can be subterfuges for more restrictive measures. Former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson proposed a six-month waiting period--a long time to wait for a woman who is in immediate danger of attack from her ex-boyfriend. Senator Metzenbaum's bill would give the police de facto licensing powers, even in states that have explicitly considered and rejected a police-run licensing system.

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