Archive for Saturday, July 13, 1991


July 13, 1991


A proposed federal waiting period for handgun purchases could replace a three-day waiting period that has been in effect in Lawrence for five years, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.

Wildgen said it's too early to determine the effects of the proposed legislation, which was passed Thursday evening by the Senate and contains a five-working-day waiting period for handgun purchases. The Senate bill also bans nine types of semiautomatic assault-style weapons and toughens the penalties for illegal use of firearms.

IF THE bill becomes a law, Wildgen said, the city attorney would review it and determine how to incorporate it in Lawrence. Wildgen said that typically, federal legislation supercedes local laws.

Therefore, he guessed that the federal legislation would be enacted locally and the local waiting period would be scrapped.

The federal waiting period was part of a comprehensive crime package that restores the federal death penalty and extends it to 51 crimes. The bill cleared the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 71-26 Thursday night.

THE BILL contains most of the essential features of the Democrats' crime package, including a $3.3 billion authorization for aid to local police and other law enforcement programs.

The Senate-approved gun-purchase waiting period is tougher than the version the House passed in May in a historic break with the National Rifle Assn.

The House's so-called Brady Bill sets a seven-day waiting period, but unlike the Senate's, doesn't require police background checks to prevent felons and people with mental illness from purchasing guns.

The bill is named for James S. Brady, the former White House press secretary who was shot in the head by a gunman who tried to kill President Reagan in 1981.

Lawrence's handgun ordinance, enacted in March 1986, makes it unlawful for a dealer to give a handgun to a buyer until three days after the purchase. During the three-day period, police run a check on the prospective buyer to determine whether he or she has been convicted of a felony or has a history of mental illness.

THE PURPOSE of the law is to keep handguns away from potential suicide victims and criminals. It was proposed after a Kansas University student bought a handgun at a local gun store, took the weapon to a field the same day and fatally shot herself.

Lawrence police have said that fewer than five prospective handgun buyers have been turned down since the ordinance went into effect.

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