Suicides Up Since Gun Waiting Period Ended
In 2015 Walker, Republicans repealed law requiring 48 hour waiting period to buy guns.
An 18-year-old woman from Florida, who had an unhealthy obsession with the Columbine High School shooting that occurred 20 years ago in Littleton, Colorado, made a pilgrimage from her home to the Rocky Mountain state this week.
Authorities worried that the woman, who had reportedly purchased a gun when she arrived in Colorado, posed a security threat, and many high schools closed their doors rather than risk a repeat of what happened in 1999.
That woman ended up dying by suicide, according to reporting from Fox 31 in Denver. She was able to purchase her weapon in about 20 minutes, as Colorado doesn’t have a waiting period to purchase guns.
When I read about those details this week, I was reminded about a series of blog posts I had written in 2015 about Wisconsin’s own 48-hour waiting period to buy guns. At that time, state lawmakers justified abolishing that standard, which had been in place for forty years prior, using questionable stories (well, only one story actually, which was flimsy at best) to pave the way to a zero-wait time purchase for guns in the state from that point forward.
I made a sad prediction when the 48-hour waiting period law was repealed — that crime would go up, and more specifically, that suicides would increase across the state as well.
Unfortunately, my predictions on both turned out to be true.
Death by suicide also increased during that period. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the suicide rate per 100,000 individuals went up by nearly 18 percent between 2014 to 2017.
Why was I confident that this would happen? I had hoped that I would be wrong. Unfortunately, my predictions were based on common sense observations that every lawmaker in the state of Wisconsin was able to access themselves.
I looked to other states that had recently removed their own waiting period laws from the books to see if crime had gone up. South Dakota did so, just a few years before Wisconsin did, and saw a rapid increase in violent crime, for example.
I also did my homework on the subject, and found that people who die by suicide generally formulate a plan to kill themselves, and follow through on the first steps of that plan — whether going to the gun store or making other arrangements — within 20 minutes of making their initial decision.
I wondered, earlier on Wednesday, what would have happened had this young woman made her way to Colorado and found that she’d have to wait for two days before getting a gun. She would have had more time to think things over — she’d probably have been found by authorities before being able to get her hands on the gun — and the gun store itself could have prevented the sale, even if they had begun the 48-hour process, because by the time they would have handed the weapon over to her, they would have been made aware of the danger she posed to herself and to others.
I also wonder about the people of Wisconsin who have died by suicide — how many would have been delayed from doing so, and how many lives could have been saved by that delay. Studies demonstrate that waiting periods do, in fact, save lives, and it’s shameful that the state of Wisconsin, under former Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature in 2015 (of which many of its members remain in office today), removed the waiting period under suspicious rationales.
Now, correlation doesn’t equate causation. Suicide rates may have gone up for other reasons, and violent crime may have increased for different reasons than the removal of the 48-hour waiting period as well. But removing that restriction didn’t make the state safer — nor did removing other restrictions on gun ownership in the years Walker was governor.
Those revisions to our laws didn’t result in less crime, as was promised to us by the former chief executive of our state. Rather, we saw more crime, and more suicide, across Wisconsin, just as I had predicted.
Reinstituting the 48-hour waiting period ought to be a priority of the current session of the legislature. Unfortunately, since Republicans remain in power, the chances of that happening are slim. As more time passes before such a waiting period can be reimplemented, more lives will be lost in the state in the meantime — a legislative “accomplishment” that Republicans ought to feel ashamed over.
More about the Gun Violence
- Op Ed: Suicides Up Since Gun Waiting Period Ended - Chris Walker - Apr 21st, 2019
- Representative Lisa Subeck Praises Federal Background Check Expansion Act Introduction - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Jan 9th, 2019
- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Helps Introduce Background Check Expansion Act To Reduce Gun Violence - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Jan 9th, 2019
- Senator Larson & Representative Bowen: Call on Gun Manufacturers to Prioritize “Smart Gun” Technology and Other Gun Safety Measures in Order to Reduce Gun Violence - State Sen. Chris Larson - Sep 13th, 2018
- School Safety Grant Program Avoids Larger Issues of Gun Violence - State Sen. Chris Larson - Jul 24th, 2018
- Most School Shooters Get Their Guns at Home - State Rep. Terese Berceau - May 22nd, 2018
- Governor Walker Orders Flags to Half-Staff Following Tragedy in Santa Fe, Texas - Gov. Scott Walker - May 18th, 2018
- Bryce Releases Statement on Santa Fe High School Shooting - Randy Bryce - May 18th, 2018
- Why Student Activists Did 50 Mile March - Will Kenneally - Apr 20th, 2018
- Roys Marks 19th Anniversary of Columbine Shooting - Kelda Roys - Apr 20th, 2018
- Marchers Seek Gun Control - Margaret Cannon - Apr 5th, 2018
- Giffords Endorses Rebecca Dallet for Wisconsin Supreme Court Against Gun Lobby Backed Candidate - Rebecca Dallet - Mar 30th, 2018
- Mayor Tom Barrett Applauds Passage of Bill Prohibiting Straw Purchasing - Mayor Tom Barrett - Mar 28th, 2018
- Governor Walker Signs $100 Million School Safety Plan into Law - Gov. Scott Walker - Mar 26th, 2018
- Republicans Again Did Nothing to Address Gun Violence - State Sen. Chris Larson - Mar 20th, 2018
- School safety package is rushed, needs significant fixes - State Rep. David Bowen - Mar 20th, 2018
- Tom Palzewicz Releases Comprehensive Gun Safety Reform Plan - Tom Palzewicz - Mar 20th, 2018
- Dana Wachs Responds to Gov. Walker’s Short-Sighted School Safety Plan - State Rep. Dana Wachs - Mar 15th, 2018
- Gov. Walker fails to act on gun safety - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Mar 15th, 2018
- No Child Should Ever Feel Unsafe in School: Governor Walker Calls $100 million Special Session on School Safety - Gov. Scott Walker - Mar 15th, 2018
- I stand with our children - Ald. Chantia Lewis - Mar 14th, 2018
- National Walkout Day: I Sit in Solidarity with Students - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Mar 14th, 2018
- Youth Council measure urges support of National School Walkout Day and March for Our Lives - City of Milwaukee Youth Council - Mar 13th, 2018
- Mayor Tom Barrett, City Leaders Call For Gun Safety from Children - Mayor Tom Barrett - Mar 12th, 2018
- The State of Politics: School Safety Bill Renews Gun Debate - Steven Walters - Mar 12th, 2018
- The Intersection of Guns and Race - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Mar 8th, 2018
- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Cosponsors Critical School Safety Legislation - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Mar 6th, 2018
- Representative Subeck Statement on Governor’s Comments on School Safety - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Mar 1st, 2018
- Roys calls on Walker to pass common sense gun reform during proposed special session on gun violence - Kelda Roys - Mar 1st, 2018
- Op Ed: Thoughtful Discussion Needed on Guns - Kyle Hagge - Mar 1st, 2018
- Guns, Grief and Grace - Elizabeth Baker - Feb 28th, 2018
- The time for action on gun violence is now - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Feb 28th, 2018
- The Contrarian: The Real “Gun Nuts” - George Mitchell - Feb 26th, 2018
- Did Michael Screnock Promise the NRA He Supports More Guns in Schools? - One Wisconsin Now - Feb 23rd, 2018
- Universal Background Checks Fail on Party Line in WI State Assembly - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Feb 21st, 2018
- Bryce Calls on Speaker Ryan to Meet with Students from his District - Randy Bryce - Feb 21st, 2018
- Republicans block school shooting precautions - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Feb 20th, 2018
- Passage of Senate Bill 408 - State Sen. Chris Larson - Feb 20th, 2018
- Republican Bill Would Put Guns in Wisconsin Schools - One Wisconsin Now - Feb 19th, 2018
- Speaker Ryan Chooses Campaign Donors Over South Florida Teacher - Randy Bryce - Feb 17th, 2018
- Dana Wachs Calls for an Overhaul of Assault Weapon Laws and Other Measures to Fight Domestic Terrorism - State Rep. Dana Wachs - Feb 16th, 2018
- GOP Chair of State Assembly Committee on Education, School Principal Shares Article Romanticizing Guns in Schools in Aftermath of Florida Mass School Shooting - One Wisconsin Now - Feb 16th, 2018
- Data Wonk: The More Guns, Less Crime Scam - Bruce Thompson - Oct 18th, 2017
- Op Ed: 5 Ways to Reduce Gun Deaths - Patrick Dunphy - Oct 16th, 2017