New law does away with 48 hour waiting period; Mayor warns it will not save lives

July 2, 2015
By Steve Waring
Special to The Milwaukee Times 

Speaking at the Bucyrus campus of the Sojourner Family Peace Center, a domestic violence prevention and intervention facility under construction on the north side, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett at a press conference on June 23 denounced Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to eliminate a statewide 48-hour waiting period before purchasing a handgun from a licensed dealer. Pictured (From right) are Carmen Pitre, executive director of the Sojourner Family Peace Center; Erin Perkins, coordinator of the City of Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; John Rakowski, program coordinator, Violence Prevention Initiative; and Mayor Tom Barrett.

Governor Scott Walker signed a new law at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office on June 24 that eliminates the 48-hour waiting period on all point-of-sale handgun purchases in the state. The bill was approved earlier in the month by the Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature.

During a press conference following the ceremony, Gov. Walker said the 48-hour waiting period was no longer necessary now that background checks can be performed almost instantaneously. Law abiding Wisconsin citizens in immediate fear for their safety will now be able to arm themselves promptly against abusers, Gov. Walker said.

The new law will not make vulnerable women safer, according to Mayor Tom Barrett who was joined at an impromptu press conference in front of the under-construction Sojourner Family Peace Center at 619 W. Walnut St. Mayor Barrett was joined at a portable dais by the leaders from many of the domestic violence victim assistance groups in Milwaukee County

“You could have that same instant background check with private purchases,” Mayor Barrett said, noting that the 48-hour waiting period did not help the three women who were shot and killed at the Azana Spa in Brookfield in 2012. Under the old law the perpetrator was ineligible to purchase a handgun at a store because the background check would have revealed that he had an outstanding domestic violence restraining order, so he bought the gun from a private individual.

“Here is the hypocrisy of this bill,” Mayor Barrett said. “If the proponents of this legislation and the governor of this state cared about reducing domestic violence they would apply that instantaneous background check to sales of all guns.

“But that’s not what they’re interested in doing,” Mayor Barrett said. “They are interested in currying favor with the NRA (National Rifle Association).”