Gov. Scott Walker is offering support for a bill that would eliminate Wisconsin’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases, saying he wants the state “to be a leader” on the issue.
“We’ve gone big and bold with a lot of issues. That’s one of those where with new technology, we want to make sure the bad guys don’t get firearms, and the good guys do,” Walker told the National Rifle Association’s news network during an interview Friday at a conservative political conference outside Washington, D.C.
Walker said in the interview “we’ve been the leader when it comes to freedom over the last four years,” highlighting how Wisconsin became the 49th state to pass a concealed carry law. “In fact, the NRA played a big role in that,” he said.
He also noted the state adopted a law that protects from prosecution homeowners who shoot people they perceive as a threat, known as the castle doctrine.
When asked about the latest gun rights bill, which would eliminate Wisconsin’s 40-year-old law requiring a 48-hour waiting period between when a background check is submitted to the Department of Justice and the handgun is acquired, Walker said: “I think we want to be a leader in this area as well.”
Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said the governor “supports laws that make it easier for law-abiding citizens to access firearms and difficult for criminals to obtain illegal firearms.”
She did not say, when asked, whether the governor plans to sign the bill.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Brad Schimel did not respond to a request for his position on the bill.
Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said he hasn’t spoken with Walker about the bill but said Walker’s comments make it clear he supports it.
An Assembly committee held a hearing last week on its version of the bill, which has 32 Republican sponsors.
The NRA and several hunting groups are registered to lobby in support, while the city of Milwaukee and groups fighting domestic violence are registered against.
Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee, who sits on the committee, said he wasn’t persuaded by the gun rights advocates who made their case to the committee.
“I’m one of those who looks at the question of the proliferation of easily concealable guns as the cause of mayhem and carnage in my community of Milwaukee,” Kessler said.
Kessler backs an amendment to the bill that would create an exception for those who have been arrested multiple times for domestic abuse but never convicted of a crime that would prohibit them from owning a firearm.
In such cases, the amendment calls for a hearing to be held before the person can acquire a handgun.
Wanggaard, a retired police officer, makes the case that when the law was created in 1976, law enforcement would have to go through index cards in filing cabinets to conduct background checks.
Today, national criminal background checks can be done in a matter of hours using electronic databases.
Wanggaard also disagreed with the “cooling-off period” argument, citing a recent homicide in Milwaukee in which police say a man bought a gun, but before obtaining it killed his wife with a hatchet.
He said the domestic violence amendment isn’t needed because current law requires police officers to arrest active participants in a domestic altercation.
He said the law today amounts to a “time tax” on law-abiding gun owners.
Wanggaard plans to hold a public hearing on the bill in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on March 11.
The law only applies to handguns.
There is no 48-hour waiting period for long rifles and shotguns.
Wisconsin is one of 10 states and the District of Columbia with some kind of waiting period law, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
California, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia requiring waiting periods for all gun purchases.