When Newsweek recently published an article that touted the benefit of waiting periods for handgun purchases, it lacked one critical element, the perspective of a New Jersey woman whose wait for a handgun permit dragged on for two months.
But Newsweek didn’t speak to Berlin Township’s Carol Bowne because she wasn’t available. She’s dead, murdered two years ago by the man against whom she had a restraining order. He fatally stabbed her in the driveway of her home and later hanged himself. The murderous attack was captured on a security camera.
Bowne’s grisly death put New Jersey’s Draconian gun control laws on public display, yet nothing really changed. There was some hand wringing, holes were poked in the air with fingers, people were outraged, and then it all went away.
The Newsweek article contended that, “Making would-be gun owners wait just a few days between purchase and possession could dramatically reduce deaths from handgun violence.” This assertion was based on a study that claimed “More than 700 lives were saved per year by mandatory waiting period laws in the 17 states that have them.”
Gun control proponents continually argue that their proposals, no matter how extreme, are worthwhile “if they save just one life.”
In Bowne’s case – which the gun prohibition lobby avoids – gun control cost one life. The reaction from gun prohibitionists was essentially silence.
At the time, Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, put the law and its enforcement on the spot.
“Permitting authorities are notorious for violating state-mandated time frames,” Bach told NJ.com, as he noted that the state criminal code required that handgun permit applications be granted within 30 days. Bowne applied for hers in April. She was murdered in June while her application gathered dust on the local police chief’s desk.
According to Newsweek, “Waiting period laws have strong support among advocates for federal gun regulations.” Those would be people who think the Second Amendment delineates a government privilege rather than a fundamental right. As noted by Newsweek:
“The American Medical Association, which considers gun violence a public health crisis, favors a federally mandated waiting period. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has also called for such laws, noting prior evidence that they reduce suicides in particular. And a recent Quinnipiac poll reported just last week found that 79 percent of voters surveyed favored waiting period laws.”
But civil rights are not subject to the whims of public opinion surveys, and a right delayed and dependent upon government clearance is not a right at all, but something less.
Congressman Trey Gowdy once famously grilled a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman about due process and the Second Amendment, and left her somewhat speechless, unable to answer his simple question about what other right is suspended (by being placed on a watch list) until a person can petition the government to get it back.
This had to do with being placed on such a list without due process. Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, demonstrated his interrogative talent.
Many gun rights activists associate waiting periods with presumption of guilt until innocence is proven before one can exercise his/her right to keep and bear arms.
The Newsweek article reported that with a national waiting period law “more than 900 gun violence deaths could be avoided every year, the researchers concluded.”
So far, nobody has studied how many lives might be lost because of waiting periods. There has been at least one for sure.