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Wisconsin lawmakers eliminated the 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases in 2015.

Associated Press

The law requiring a 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases in Wisconsin would be eliminated under a bill being circulated by Republican lawmakers.

“This basically is a time tax,” said state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.

Wanggaard said that the so-called “48-hour rule,” first enacted in Wisconsin in 1976, became law before statutory background checks on handgun purchases. And he added that with current technology, background checks can be conducted in about an hour.

“Everybody is kind of connected now,” he said. “Back in the day, 48 hours was instantaneous.”

The legislation, which is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship, would allow a federally licensed firearms dealer to transfer a handgun immediately after receiving notice from the Department of Justice that the person trying to buy a gun isn’t prohibited from owning a firearm.

“With the implementation of instant background checks, the need for a waiting period has become a time tax on both the dealer and the purchaser,” the Feb. 4 co-sponsorship memo reads.

Wanggaard, a former police officer, said Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states to require the 48-hour waiting period. And he said he has not yet heard from anyone opposed to the legislation.

But state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, a member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, said he will not be supporting the bill.

He raised concerns that someone involved in a domestic violence incident could too quickly buy a gun and harm or kill someone.

“It’s also a cooling-off period,” Risser said. “I don’t see the purpose of speeding it up.”

The GOP-controlled Legislature previously passed a concealed carry law, which Gov. Scott Walker signed in July 2011.

Later that year, in December 2011, Walker signed a “castle doctrine” law, which provides homeowners who shoot intruders with new legal protections.


State Government Reporter for Wisconsin State Journal