On heels of Virginia murders, some lawmakers hope to reinstate 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases

MILWAUKEE -- Following the murder of two Virginia journalists, many are renewing their calls for stricter gun laws -- including expanding background checks and mandatory cooling-off periods.

Alison Parker, Adam Ward

Reporter Alison Parker and camerman Adam Ward, journalists for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia were gunned down on Wednesday morning, August 26th on live television. They were killed by Vester Flanagan, a disgruntled former reporter they once worked with at WDBJ. The deadly shooting played out on live television, and it was also captured on video by the gunman. The gunman, who went by the name "Bryce Williams" on air, died at the hospital Wednesday following a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Earlier this year, Wisconsin lawmakers repealed a mandatory two-day waiting period before someone could by a handgun.

"The 48-hour waiting period is constantly something that's been on my mind," said Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) said.


Rep. Barnes says Wisconsin had it right -- people should have to wait two days before leaving with a handgun they purchased.

"When someone is looking to purchase a firearm that quickly, they're looking to use it quickly," said Barnes.

In June, Governor Scott Walker signed a bill repealing the 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. One of the bill's co-sponsors, Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) says the wait is unnecessary since stores can now run background checks in just minutes. He says people who've been threatened suffer the most from such laws.

"They could go into the store and have to wait 48 hours because they're legally purchasing this firearm -- wait 48 hours and come back and get it two days later, but it could be too late," said Rep. Kremer.

The repeal of the 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases came two months before the latest high-profile shooting -- the murders of two Virginia journalists that occurred on live television Wednesday morning.

"If someone in that studio may have been allowed to carry a firearm legally, they might have taken this guy out before he caused any more damage," said Kremer.

Barnes takes a different view.

"We need to make sure that we are putting together universal background checks, which is a bill that's been introduced time and time again and it's been ignored time and time again by the Republicans," said Barnes.

Kremer says it's nearly impossible to enforce background checks on private sales, adding lawmakers cannot stop someone driven to do evil.

"If they're gonna cause harm and do something illegal, they're going to get the firearm one way or another," said Kremer.


FOX6 News also talked to Nik Clark from Wisconsin Carry -- a gun rights advocate. He doesn't think there's anything the Virginia crew could have done to protect themselves. He also doesn't think a waiting period would have stopped the shooter, who was fired from the television station two years ago.

Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) is now drafting a bill to restore the waiting period.

Alison Parker, Adam Ward