SEATTLE – When convicted of killing three teenagers and seriously injuring another at a house party north of Seattle, Allen Ivanov said he was sorry and couldn’t explain why he did it.
But he noted one factor that enabled him to pull off the shootout — “the ease of acquiring a gun.” The then 19-year-old had bought the assault rifle a week earlier and was so unfamiliar with the gun that he sat in his car before the party and studied the manual before opening fire on his ex-girlfriend and others.
This theme has been repeated once again in America’s recent spate of mass shootings – in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma – which claimed 35 lives in less than three weeks. He renews the debate on whether restrictions such as waiting times etc Bans on young adults buying semi-automatic rifles could have saved lives.
“If those had been there, it would have made a difference,” said Paul Kramer, who in 2018 successfully spearheaded a 10-day waiting period for buying semi-automatic rifles in Washington state as well as a ban on young adults buying such guns after his son Will had two seriously wounded in Ivanov’s killing spree years earlier. “These mass shootings would not have unfolded the way they did and very likely lives would have been saved.”
Only nine states and Washington, DC have explicit waiting periods before people can purchase at least some types of firearms. The restrictions may give authorities more time to conduct background checks and discourage impulsive, emotional people from immediately accessing guns that could kill themselves or others, according to the Giffords Law Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence.
The federal government has no waiting period. A bill passed by the Democrat-led US House of Representatives last year would extend the review period for background checks from three to 10 days, but it is being opposed by Republicans and is not part of ongoing Senate negotiations how Congress can respond to the recent massacres.
In Tulsa, authorities said the gunman who killed his surgeon, another doctor and two others on Wednesday bought an AR-style rifle a few hours earlier, as well as a handgun on May 29. The shooter, Michael Louis, 45, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, had recently undergone surgery and accused his doctor of persistent back pain.
In Uvalde, Texas, the 18-year-old gunman who killed 21 people at Robb Elementary School had bought two guns the week before.
California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia have wait times to purchase all types of guns that range from three to 14 days. Minnesota and Washington impose wait times for handguns and semi-automatic rifles, while Maryland and New Jersey have wait times for handguns only.
Additionally, several other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts, require buyers of at least some types of guns to first obtain permits, sometimes including completing safety classes. These restrictions can work like waiting times.
Oklahoma does not have a law mandating a waiting period, but some Democratic lawmakers have called for a special session of the Legislature to deal with it, among other gun violence measures following the Tulsa shooting.
“Oklahoma students will be in school in two months,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin. “If we don’t act by then, it will be because the legislature has no will to do so. I hope all Oklahomans pay attention.”
They suggested a waiting period for firearm purchases to increase government costs Minimum age to purchase guns from 18 to 21, and a “Red Flag” law that allows guns to be temporarily confiscated from people who might pose a danger to themselves or others. These proposals are unlikely to get anywhere in a GOP-controlled legislature that has been pushing for relaxation of state gun laws for years.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is running for re-election, said last week after the Texas shooting it was too early to talk about gun policy.
Florida stands out as a Republican-led state that imposed gun restrictions after a mass shooting. In 2018, after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed 14 students and three staff, the then-governor said. Rick Scott signed into law a three-day waiting period and raising the minimum age to purchase guns from 18 to 21.
Scott, now a U.S. Senator, “encourages all states to look at the actions he took in Florida to determine what works best for their state,” his communications director McKinley Lewis said in an email Friday.
Nationwide, about a third of mass shooters bought a gun within a month of their crimes, said James Densley, co-founder of The Violence Project, a nonpartisan research group that has tracked mass shootings since 1966.
Waiting laws that delay firearm purchases by a few days reduce homicides by about 17%, according to a 2017 Harvard Business School study. But Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, called wait times “an ineffective policy to try to influence gun crime.”
“The major concern we have is that people who want to exercise their right to bear arms, especially when they are carrying arms for the first time, are delayed in being able to get the tools they need to do so to protect yourself,” Paredes said.
Daniel Webster, co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said wait times are important, and he understands why more states aren’t requiring them: Many gun laws, he said, are ” written by people who sell guns”.
Proponents say several days or even a week or more between the purchase and delivery of a gun represents an important “cooling off” period for someone who is angry or contemplating suicide.
“If for some reason you’re buying a person who’s buying the gun to use it to harm others, the fact that they can’t get their hands on the gun right away can present an opportunity for circumstances to wind up.” If you change that, you get it, assuming you’re entitled to get it in the first place,” said Peter Neronha, Rhode Island Attorney General.
Another benefit of extending the wait time is giving law enforcement enough time to conduct a thorough background check, he said.
Hawaii has the longest wait time in the US at 14 days. Alan Beck, an attorney representing residents who are contesting various aspects of state gun laws, said the two-week deadline appears arbitrary. If it’s intended as a cool-down for someone who’s angry, it won’t impact potential gun buyers if they already own a firearm.
But state Senator Karl Rhoads said he believes the wait time worked in combination with other strict gun control laws, noting that Hawaii has a low homicide rate.
“If you’re really angry about something and you can buy a gun that you can get right away, then you can follow your impulse,” Rhoads said. “If you have to wait a few weeks, calm down and change your mind.”
Former Florida State Assemblyman Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat who represented Parkland in 2018 and is now running for Congress, said waiting times alone are not enough. Raising the purchasing age, passing red-flag laws, increasing mental health spending and improving school safety are all essential, he said.
“Not a single change will make a huge difference,” Moskowitz said. “But every change taken together is.”
Associated Press writers Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Florida; Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu; Michael Kunzelman at College Park, Maryland; Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City; Terry Spencer of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Don Thompson of Sacramento, California, contributed to this report.
Watch AP’s coverage of the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York here:
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.
https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/04/tulsa-shooting-puts-focus-on-waiting-periods-for-gun-buyers/ Tulsa shooting focuses on gun buyer wait times