Legislators in Wisconsin passed multiple bills Tuesday which would allow off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry guns on school property and do away with a 48-hour waiting period on gun sales.
The bills are now headed to the desk of Gov. Scott Walker for a signature. Spokeswoman Laurel Patrick indicated the governor was likely to sign the legislation, noting in an email to The Star Tribune that he stands behind laws that “make it easier for law-abiding citizens to access firearms and difficult for criminals to obtain illegal firearms.”
But the bills certainly haven’t gone without opposition.
“It’s just going to result in more violence in our urban communities,” Rep. Fred Kessler said of doing away with the waiting period, which was first enacted in 1976.
Those who support the legislation said with modern technology the waiting period is obsolete, and also noted that the Wisconsin Department of Justice still has the option to impose a processing time of up to five days when conducting a background check if deemed necessary or beneficial.
“There’s no statistical evidence that says that a cooling-off period actually lessens crime,” Rep. Romaine Quinn, who authored the bill, told a local ABC affiliate.
Quinn added that he believed the bill was being made out to be more than what it actually was, and reiterated that those seeking to purchase a gun must still pass a background check. He said the legislation simply allows law-abiding citizens to purchase guns more quickly and efficiently, noting that the waiting period was an unnecessary burden for many residents in rural areas.
Rep. Mary Czaja said the legislation will help ensure the safety of women who seek to purchase a gun for protection against stalkers, domestic abusers and other potentially deadly situations.
“Restraining orders don’t help,” Czaja said. “We’re selling these guns to people who pass a background check and are legal and have every right to own one. This is about empowering women to help themselves and protect their families and their friends.”
Tuesday’s legislation covered another controversial subject as well – guns in schools – which passed 22-11.
Sen. Van Wanggaard, who sponsored the bill allowing off-duty and retired police officers to carry guns on school property, said it’s simply another means of protection for students and teachers, but those who oppose the idea said it could scare the students. Opponents also noted that school administrators would have no control over keeping guns out of their schools and that officers who are mentally unstable could result in a deadly situation.