Senate committee passes bill that would eliminate 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases

MADISON (WITI) -- Republican lawmakers in Madison want to eliminate the state's 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. But Democrats say that could lead to criminals getting guns faster.

The gun debate returned to Madison Thursday, March 12th as lawmakers discussed the period you have to wait to purchase a handgun.

State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), has authorized a bill that would do away with the two-day waiting period.

"That was to give dealerships the ability to check and make sure that individual had the ability to lawfully posses it," said Wanggaard.

It's been on the books since 1976, but Wanggaard says with current technology, most background checks can be completed in a matter of hours or even minutes.

"If they don't come back clean, they don't get their license approval," said Wanggaard.

Wanggaard says a person should be able to walk out of a store with a gun as soon as the background check is complete.

"My question for Senator Wanggaard would be, what is the necessity?" said Representative Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee).

In the Milwaukee area, where gun violence is a persistent problem, lawmakers are opposed to the bill.

"This is a reckless maneuver to do away with a necessary procedure," said Rep. Barnes.

Rep. Barnes says the bill would undermine efforts by the mayor and the police chief to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

"It will make it easier for people who shouldn't have handguns to obtain those handguns. What it will do is allow people who are in the heat of the moment have more rapid access to a violent weapon," said Barnes.

But Wanggaard says the 48-hour period doesn't change criminal behavior, it only hurts potential criminal victims. He says his bill is designed to change the equation.

"What it does is give the victims, or the potential victims of crime and abuse the ability to help their families," said Wanggaard.

The Senate's Judiciary Committee approved Wanggaard's bill 3-2 on Thursday -- clearing the way for a full Senate vote.

Since 2011, Wisconsin has passed two controversial gun-related measures. First the concealed carry law and then the Castle Doctrine, which allows homeowners to defend themselves against intruders.

Related stories: