State bill proposes 7-day waiting period for firearm purchases

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/27/2019 9:28:27 PM

The state House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would require a seven-day waiting period for purchasing firearms.

The bill has been sent on to the Senate for deliberation.

Supporters of the bill say imposing a waiting period would save lives.

“I think too many occurrences of gun violence – which are often directed at the self, through suicide – are a decision of impulsivity,” Democrat State Rep. Dick Ames of Jaffrey said.

There is no federal waiting period for gun sales, and states have varying laws on the issue. Ten states – Hawaii, California, Rhode Island, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Iowa, Maryland and New Jersey – as well as Washington D.C. have waiting periods of 24 hours to as long as 14 days.

New Hampshire currently doesn’t have any waiting periods, beyond clearing background checks.

“Waiting periods can and do save lives by preventing impulsive acts of violence and suicide,” House Majority Leader and Democrat Doug Ley of Jaffrey said in a press release last week. “Our most important job as legislators is to protect and preserve the health and safety of all New Hampshire citizens and I am pleased that the House voted today to do just that.”

Ken Caisse, owner of Firearms Etc. in Temple said he is not in favor of the bill.

“Why should someone law abiding have to wait?” Caisse said last week. “I don’t see any benefit to a waiting period. If someone has it in their mind to do something, they’re going to do it, regardless of the waiting period.”

The Center for Disease Control reported in 2016 there were 132 firearm deaths in New Hampshire, 18 of which were homicides.

Ley claims firearm suicides are reduced by half in states with a waiting period. He said because attempts at suicide with a firearm are fatal 90 percent of the time, adding a waiting period for firearm purchases could reduce suicide fatalities.

“Studies state that most survivors of suicide admit to contemplating their suicide attempt quickly, most only 24 hours prior,” Ley wrote. “Imposing waiting periods reduces the immediate potential for gun-related suicides and other impulsive acts of gun violence, saving the invaluable lives of so many.”

Other local state representatives said the statistics on firearm use to commit suicide were compelling to them.

“If you can’t get a gun on the day when you’re feeling like that, by the time you can get it, you will likely be in a different place, and many lives will be saved,” Ames said.

Democrate State Rep. Peter Leishman of Peterborough said he knew at least one person who had purchased a gun for the purpose of committing suicide.

“I think that’s one of the real heavy reasons for voting the way I did,” he said.

Leishman said he is not “wed” to a seven-day waiting period, if the Senate is willing to pass an amended bill with a shorter waiting period.

“As long as there some breathing room,” he said.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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