Chris Bradley: Waiting periods for gun purchases will not work

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Chris Bradley, who is president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.

As I understand it, the suggested need for a waiting period is as a way to help reduce impulsive acts done with firearms, specifically suicides or murders, with this being referred to as “reducing access to lethal means.”

Regarding suicide by firearm, according to the Vermont Department of Mental Health, in 2016 there were 1,141 suicide attempts. Of those, 1,070, or 94 percent, were attempts using something other than a firearm. For those suicides where a firearm was used, the vast majority were done with a firearm that was already owned.

Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

Chris Bradley: since waiting periods will not address 94 percent of overall suicide attempts, and will not address when lethal means are already owned, it seems clear we need a solution that is better focused on the overall problem.

It is actually a pretty rare event when a person will go to a store, buy a firearm and then kill themselves with it.

Regarding the impulsive use of a firearm for murder, this is not a common event in Vermont, either. Per the FBI, Vermont is consistently the first or second safest state in the nation when it comes to violent crime. Impulsively buying a firearm for immediate nefarious purposes is also a pretty rare event.

A waiting period will be ineffective for the simple reason that people plan. When someone decides to hop in their car, go to a store, fake any distress, buy a firearm and then go home and kill themselves with it, that’s a plan. No matter what time limit is imposed, if someone is determined they will simply plan around a waiting period.

There are other problems with a waiting period.

To begin, what is the balance between the concept of a waiting period and the unalienable right of self defense? According to the Judiciary Annual Statistical Report, there were 3,380 relief from abuse (RFA) filings in 2018, an increase of 8 percent over 2017. Temporary restraining orders were granted for 2,636 cases. Final orders were granted for 1,589. There can be no question that there are Vermonters who are in fear of violence, as it is clear there are thousands. Likewise there should be no question that Vermonters have a right to self defense.

It is not unrealistic to believe that some of those Vermonters under the threat of violence may choose to immediately obtain the means for their defense. Beyond those Vermonters is any Vermonter who understands that the defensive use of firearms is a “common occurrence” and who also wish to immediately prepare themselves.

How tragic will it be when a known victim is killed by a known aggressor while the victim was in a waiting period? These stories exist now, just not in Vermont.

What of the situation where the purchaser already owns a firearm? There were 41,000 firearm transfers in Vermont for 2018, one of which we now hope was preventable. If the intent of a waiting period is to reduce access to lethal means, what is accomplished when a Vermonter already owns lethal means?

While establishing a waiting period might, possibly, maybe help reduce what are already rare events, waiting periods will prove ineffective. Beyond that, since waiting periods will not address 94 percent of overall suicide attempts, and will not address when lethal means are already owned, it seems clear we need a solution that is better focused on the overall problem.

Establishing a waiting period will put Vermonters at risk who are under the threat of violence by denying them the ability to defend themselves in a timely manner; it will inconvenience tens of thousands of Vermonters annually in lost time and money to make a redundant trip; and it will financially hurt sporting organizations, businesses, and towns that host sportsman’s shows, banquets and auctions. It also invites yet another court challenge.

The benefits of a Waiting Period are questionable — the negatives are real.

I respectfully ask the Legislature to vote down any Waiting Period on possessing a firearm.

Images courtesy of Enoch Lai /Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia Commons/Public domain
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12 thoughts on “Chris Bradley: Waiting periods for gun purchases will not work

  1. Chris thanks for speaking out once again for the gun owners in this state.

    I’m sure you have noticed by now that is always the same people that show up to testify at hearings and the same people that show up at the rallies time after time to defend our rights.

    To those that are consistent and showing up to defend our rights I can’t thank you enough.

    To those that brag about doing things but never show up it’s pretty sad

  2. Chris, right on as usual. In this case, bill S.169 is another feel good piece of legislation where the sponsors make the standard statement; “if it saves just one life it is worth it”. They won’t even consider that it doesn’t have any regard for our constitutional rights as those are now considered obsolete by this “moral” liberal establishment. They could care it besmirches the stellar firearm safety record of 100K legitimate Vermonter gun owners every year for decades. Facts don’t matter to these people.

    Interesting that they don’t feel the same way about terminating full term abortions being proposed in legislatures across the country and in Washington. Hypocrites!!

  3. Excellent article Chris.Chris used facts and truth however the civilian disarmament crowd cant let truth and facts get in the way of their agenda of the obfuscation of Freedom and Liberty.

  4. People are assuming they are really interested in helping those who commit suicide. This bill while they say was about helping this young man and others, was not. It is clear from the fact nobody is willing to discuss WHY he chose to take his life.

    Vermont does have a high suicide rate that should be looked into, it has nothing to do with guns but the mental state of our neighbors. You won’t see anybody on the commission that set this bill looking any further into helping lower our suicide rate, yet ANOTHER very serious tell that exposed their lie.

    The majority in power have not regard for our constitution or our people, they are all about power, money and control. They talk a great game, get serious press coverage, but their true heart is not in the right space, they need to be exposed.

    Our youth is not being trained to deal with the struggles in life. Our youth are not being exposed to some timeless truths to guide them through life. No, they are told it’s the system, they’ll never be able to overcome the trials and tribulations. Our youth are being fed a crock of dark nasty excrement, sadly there is a sea of it out there and it’s tough to find the truth. We can do a better job, we have lost our souls, we certainly need a new spirit in this state.

    • I agree that more needs to be done to prepare youth for tough emotional struggles in life and there needs to be more support from communities to prevent suicides. Restricting gun use it’s not the answer waiting periods are not the answer. People talking to each other as the answer and asking the tough questions before it’s too late, not after when people are struggling.

  5. Perfect, Mr. Bradley! Well put, well explained. Reasonable, logical, and sensible. You’ve sealed for readers the proximate cause of suicide as a planned action, in almost all cases, which takes time thereby automatically satisfying any waiting period a legislature might impose. You’ve shown such a waiting period is without benefit, as the suicide has already waited longer.

    You’ve shown the bill fails the bulk of domestic violence victims whose mortal risk is often immediate, who can’t wait, who could be killed while being forced to wait. Such a waiting period is misdirected for these people.

    Bottom line, these bills do not accomplish their stated goal, but do put innocent and law abiding people at certain risk!

  6. Chris, great article and precise data, something our legislators refuse to read or adhere to,
    they only have one agenda…….to remove firearms from law-abiding citizens. And then to use
    the tragedy of a twenty-three-year-old man with issues,……….. shameless all for an agenda.

    This feel-good policy will only delay the inevitable when someone has the intent to take there
    own life it will happen, be it twenty-four, forty-eight, seventy-two hours…….I have lived through
    two suicides no one knew what was in their minds !!

    What’s sad, is the Medical professionals know this and still point the finger because it fits the
    liberal agenda. Instead of dealing with mental health concerns, be it temporary hospitalization
    or whatever is needed, they hand out drugs like candy, they may work, but you need to take
    them……..supervision !!.

    Mental Health is the Issue, not law-abiding gun owners !!

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