Not long before the deadly Atlanta-area shootings spread fear and anger through Asian American communities nationwide, police say the attacker made a legal purchase: a 9 mm handgun.
Within hours, they say, he had killed eight people, seven of them women and six of Asian descent, in a rampage targeting massage businesses.
If Georgia had required him to wait before getting a gun, lawmakers and advocates say, he might not have acted on his impulse.
“It’s really quick. You walk in, fill out the paperwork, get your background check and walk out with a gun,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “If you’re in a state of crisis, personal crisis, you can do a lot of harm fairly quickly.”
The purchase was a normal transaction at Big Woods Goods, a shop north of Atlanta that complies with federal background check laws and is co-operating with police, said Matt Kilgo, a lawyer for the store.
“There’s no indication there’s anything improper,” he said.
The vast majority of states are like Georgia, allowing buyers to walk out of a store with a firearm after a background check that sometimes can take minutes. Waiting periods are required in just 10 states and the District of Columbia, although several states are considering legislation this year to impose them.
Gun control advocates say mandating a window of even a couple of days between the purchase of a gun and taking possession can give more time for background checks and create a “cooling off” period for people considering harming themselves or someone else. Studies suggest that waiting periods may help bring down firearm suicide rates by up to 11% and gun homicides by about 17%, according to the Giffords Center.
Georgia Democrats plan to introduce legislation that would require people to wait five days between buying a gun and getting it, said Rep. David Wilkerson, who is minority whip in the state House.
“I think a waiting period just makes sense,” he said.
A 2020 analysis by the Rand Corp., a non-profitthink-tank , also found that research links waiting periods to decreased suicide and homicide rates but determined that the effect on mass shootings was inconclusive because the sample size was too small.
California has one of the country’s longest waiting periods — 10 days. That did not stop more than 1.1 million people from buying guns last year, which was just shy of the record number sold in 2016. Gun sales nationwide, meanwhile, surged to record levels last year amid pandemic-related uncertainty.
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Against that backdrop, lawmakers in at least four states — Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont — have proposed creating or expanding waiting periods.
New gun laws will not fix deep-seated problems such as racism, misogyny and violence, said Seo Yoon “Yoonie” Yang, a leader with Students Demand Action, a gun violence prevention group. But they can help keep guns out of the hands of people who would do harm in the meantime, she said.
“Legislation is practical. Research shows that it works,” she said. “It is change that can happen efficiently and quickly.”
In Colorado, Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan ran for office after his son, Alex, died along with 11 others when a gunman opened fire in an Aurora movie theatre eight years ago. Sullivan said he hopes a waiting period in legislation he’s planning to sponsor could help curb domestic violence and suicide.
“In Atlanta, imagine if this guy’s parents or somebody else were notified that he was trying to get a firearm. Maybe they could have helped,” he said. “It wouldn’t have hurt anybody to wait … let it breathe a while. If there’s a problem, let it surface, we’ll sort it out.”
Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, oppose waiting periods. The group points to 2018 federal firearm-tracing data that shows the average time between first retail sale of a gun and involvement in a crime was nearly nine years. They also argue that waiting periods create a delay for people buying legally, while leaving illegal weapons transfers unaffected.
“A right delayed is a right denied,” Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb said.
Gun control legislation also is making its way through Congress. The Senate is expected to consider a bill to expand background checks, but it faces a difficult road — Democrats would need at least 10 Republican votes to pass it. While the House approved two bills to strengthen the checks this month, Congress has not passed any major gun control laws since the mid-1990s.
In Georgia, the Republican-controlled Legislature may resist new firearms laws before it concludes business at the end of the month. But Wilkerson pointed to recent long-sought victories that once seemed improbable, including passage of a hate crimes law and the likely repeal of a citizen’s arrest law a year after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man pursued by armed white men while jogging.
“You’re going to run into resistance. It doesn’t mean you don’t try,” Wilkerson said. “In tragedy, sometimes we can move forward. This may be the opportunity to look at another tragedy and do something about it.”
Whitehurst reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington; Don Thompson in Sacramento, California; and Jim Anderson in Denver contributed to this story.
© 2021 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.
This killer would have passed a background check, so in the end, he would have used the gun. The communists trying to take guns away from us, so we cannot defend ourselves, against the communist criminals in society.
OR he’d have stolen it from someone who OWNED One legally..
ALL THE LAWS on the books, won’t STOP A CRIMINAL from committing a crime..
THE DEATH PENALTY DOES!
Doesn’t Georgia still have the death penalty? This guy admittedly killed eight people and so faces (possibly) eight death sentences (even if they can only kill him once). God forbid they add ten years to each sentence as a “hate crime enhancement”. Oh, the horror. Even if he’s found not guilty by reason of insanity or mental defect, I don’t think the “hate crime” is going to matter much…
These days, someone on death row, spends MORE TIME in prison, MORE THAN someone that was sentenced to life with no parole.
Being 72 years old our city closed down “Susie Kims”…it was not a “spa” not a “massage parlor” everyone knew it was a place for prostitution…under cover cop went in …busted the place and arrested everyone in the place including the men who were engaging in sex not a massage!
HR-8 is to get private sales registered. Those plus FFL registers will tell them who has guns to send the confiscators. That’s why, if you don’t own a gun bought outside the system, you need to hurry. The gutless RINOs in the senate won’t stop it with a filibuster, so it’s going to happen even if they all vote NO. Harris will break the tie and call that a feather in her hat. I don’t have a suggestion as to where to find a private seller, but I’m going to try. I know a few conservative gun owners older than I am, so that’s a place to start, I think. I need a 9mm, a .45acp and ideally an AR-15. Of course, I have all those, but they were acquired through FFLs.
IT does you no good to buy those guns, when its almost impossible to get AMMO…
A black man just shot his girlfriend over her stimulus check. Killed her family. He was an ex felon with a gun. No job . Have the democrats said anything about a felon with a gun ?? No they have not.
Hell, other than a mention on this site, and one other, i’ve not even HEARD JACK SQUAT about that story…
Yeah, but that wasn’t a “hate crime” or even “racist” since his victim and her family were also black. So I guess they don’t count. And since he acquired his weapon illegally (by definition), I guess waiting periods wouldn’t apply, would they?
Just like when FELONS get guns still, and kill with those guns, YOU NEVER HEAR The left, whine about “HOW THE BACKGROUND CHECKS FAILED there..
In the nearly 70 years that my father, a WWII vet, owned a gun: zero deaths, zero injuries, zero close calls.
In the nearly 50 years that my brother, a USAF vet, owned a gun: zero deaths, zero injuries, zero close calls.
In the nearly 40 years that I, a retired office worker, owned a gun: zero deaths, zero injuries, zero close calls.
In the nearly 30 years that my son-in-law owned a gun: zero deaths, zero injuries, zero close calls.
In my entire long life, none of my friends or relatives has had to kill, injure, or threaten anyone.
Thus is the true story of the “horrific danger” of failing to enact “common sense gun laws” in America.
In fairness, no one has been foolish enough to try to rob, rape, or otherwise intimidate anyone in my family or circle of friends.
Maybe there is a cause and effect relationship between having a gun and not being challenged by crime.
I think so.
In fact, I had the dubious honor of meeting the BTK murderer who caused great hysteria in the Wichita area for nearly 20 years.
I mentioned to him that I was sleeping with a loaded gun under my pillow and he did not choose to bother my family while he lived only a quarter of a mile away during the record-hot summer of 1980. Again, coincidence? No way !!
Na.. Its down to your white privilege..
I find it SO unusual and coincidental that there is ALWAYS some shooting incident that feeds the narrative for democrat gun control attempts. ALWAYS when they need it. Like some sort of organized sleeper cell activity. Sure, the “progressive” society of the left has created a population of animals with no souls, devoid of any sense of right from wrong after all mention of God have been eradicated from governmental property. The non concept of guilt and final judgement into eternity seems to be the left’s message to its followers. How life has been devalued and the power to decide who lives and dies has been granted to the individual and called “choice”. Evil does exist. And the democrat party under the inspiration of the dark one has fully harnessed it.
AND 99% of them seem to be ‘Mental”.. ALMOST LIKE THEY are manchurian candidates who got activated..
Plus… the mass shootings always seen to increase when communist occupier democrats are in control… well in the present, I’d call it “out of control” in the realm of our Constitution.
I’ve often remarked about that elsewhere, and gotten called a conspiracy nut.. BUT THE facts, can’t be ignored..