Tuesday, March 12, 2013

GUN "Almost" FACTS 101: Waiting Periods

There is a series of videos from the organization "Protest Easy Guns" titled Gun Facts 101 that can be found on YouTube. Comments are not allowed so originally I had the idea of fisking them with my own video. Alas, that takes way too much time. So I just will do a line by line analysis of the "Almost Facts" (in italics) that are presented. This one is on Waiting Periods.

The waiting period can make sure that the individual involved takes some time to think over their purchase.

Buying a firearm is usually a big ticket item. Typical quality handguns run the gambit of $500-$1000. The most popular rifle in the US, the AR-15, runs around $1200 (although the recent buying spree has jacked those prices up to $2000 or more). So, buying a gun is not like buying a candybar. But few people I know – let me rephrase that – no one I know buys guns like candybars. I have thought over every single purchase of a firearm I made. Usually for days or weeks before. Afterall, I am basically spending the equivalent of a month of food for my family to buy a gun. That being said – a government mandated waiting period is crap! Do you support a government mandated waiting period before buying a car? What about a waiting period before visiting a doctor (I know Obamacare is sort of making that a default)? How about a waiting period before paying your credit card bill? All of these are major decisions that people should take time to think over. Of course, that is part of being an adult, knowing when you should take some time and when you don’t need to. We don’t need the government to tell us.

You can avoid some impulse purchases by imposing a waiting period.
This is absolutely true. But it also assumes that it is to your benefit to wait all the time. It isn’t. One time I decided to buy a Saiga-12 at a gun show. I went there specifically for it. I had researched it for two months before hand (a self imposed waiting limit). While there, at another vendor I saw a Saiga 7.62 for an excellent price. I took another stroll around the tables and impulsively decided to buy that one too! Good thing, I haven’t found it since for any less than $100 more than what I paid. Impulse purchases are good sometimes. Not everyone is a criminal. In fact, very little of the population are criminals that need guns (less than a couple percent of the population). Can you imagine if we had laws to control all the bad things that only apply to 2% of the population? (Murder, rape, and assault are already illegal, yet that hasn’t caused them to decrease). That would not be a fun place to live in this country. There are more drunk drivers than criminals with guns and yet we still allow alcohol to be served freely.

Sometimes with gun crime, especially in cases of domestic violence, we see an impulsive action.
Ummm … NO! What you see in domestic violence (according to the UCR and NCVS) is a long pattern of escalating violence. Sometimes just from one party, but in many cases from both parties (yes, that would be women beating up their husbands). The current law prohibits persons convicted of domestic violence (even misdemeanors) from possessing firearms (although in California there is a backlog for confiscating them so what good does the law do?). The problem here is that in the vast majority of cases where the police are called to a home for domestic violence, no charges are filed. Ergo, no conviction. Plenty of spouses have shown that if a gun isn’t handy, they will just use a kitchen knife or a baseball bat. The one thing they are not doing is leaving the home, driving down to Walmart, buying a gun, driving home, and shooting their husband. This is the only time a waiting period would be effective, yet the number of times this scenario has happened in the US is probably less than 5. Ever. On the other hand in states that do have waiting periods, there have been plenty of times when someone took out a restraining order, tried to buy a gun, had to wait, and while waiting, they were assaulted (in some cases raped and murdered) by the person who didn’t bother to obey the restraining order. Funny how criminals don’t follow the law. Now, in the case of these dead people, you can’t say that having a firearm would have made the situation worse?

It gives the purchaser time to cool off.
See above. For the vast majority, 99.99999%, of purchases, there is no cooling off needed, because there is nothing to cool off from.

There is potential depending on the state and local laws involved for a background check to go further than the instant background check or if there are questions that are raised in the instant check they can be addressed.
The instant background check is already set up to address this. If it comes back as a hold, then the purchase isn’t made. Law enforcement has 72 hours to make a final determination. If they don’t then the firearm can be sold. If law enforcement does nothing, then this obviously isn’t a priority for them (probably because 99.99% of the time there is no issue – Bayesian logic).

One of the critical things is that this is a very serious purchase and an individual should not be able to just, especially someone who is in an agitated state, the fact that they can just go in and buy a gun and act on that impulse.
My guess is that the agitated impulse buy is a creation of Hollywood. I know that I have seen it at least 3 times on different crime shows. I honestly have never read of a single incident like it in a newspaper or on the internet. All of the gun stores I have been to, and the vendors at gun shows had responsible sellers. As a businessman, I highly doubt that any of them would sell a firearm to someone who is visibly agitated.

There is a home near where I live, a mansion. More of a mega mansion. It is completely not appropriate for the neighborhood and looks out of place in a big way. After two years, no one had moved in and I asked around and found out the backstory. There was a couple who were going through a separation/divorce. Apparently the wife built the mansion as a means to get revenge and tie up a significant amount of the couple’s funds. Should we have waiting periods for things like this also?

But most important of all, waiting periods have not been shown to have any affect on the crime rate. That is not me talking, that is the National Academy of Sciences and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. If things don’t work, we shouldn’t do them.

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