Thursday, February 25, 1999

Senate bill seeks firm handgun wait period

Senate bill seeks firm handgun wait period
The Chicago Tribune
By Pamela Appea

Washington—Gun control advocates on Wednesday called for resuming a waiting period for handgun buyers, saying the new national system of instant background checks of firearm buyers is inadequate.

Six Democratic senators, including Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican John Chafee of Rhode Island proposed legislation imposing a three- to five-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

"This is literally a matter of life and death," Durbin said.

Rep. John Peter (R-Ill.) plans to introduce a similar measure in the House to permanently restore the Brady law waiting period.

The original 1993 Brady Bill, which expired in November, imposed a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases.

In most states, a potential handgun owner now can buy a gun through the FBI's National Instant Check System, a method that allows guns to be purchased in minutes.

However, gun control advocates assert that the computer check system is incomplete and cannot thoroughly check a person's record in such a short time.

Durbin and other gun control advocates point to a shooting in Salt Lake City as evidence of problems with the new system.

Last month, AT & T employee Anne Sleater, 30, was killed in her office building by a woman who was angry with NBC affiliate KSL Televion.

The 24-year-old allegedly purchased the gun—allegedly without any extensive background check—the day before her alleged rampage of the office building that houses the television station and other tenants.

Sleater’s husband, Christian, said at a Capitol Hill press conference that a three-day waiting period is a “small thing to ask to avoid such tragedies.”

Gun control advocate James Brady said that while the FBI check system is better than no gun regulation at all, the system is flawed and incomplete. “We can do better,” Brady said. “For the last five years, the Brady law has worked.”

National Rifle Association spokesman Jim Manown said that waiting periods are unnecessary and antiquated.

“The instant check system is the standard for the nation,” he said.

While Illinois conducts its own background checks on potential gun owners, Durbin said he is concerned about the guns that are often trafficked into Illinois with less stringent gun laws.

Co-sponsors of the Brady extension act include Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Toricelli (D-N.J.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)

Originally published Feb. 25, 1999

Originally published Feb. 25. 1999