Legislators in Aurora hope national cooling-off period for handgun purchases will save lives
A new bill that would require a national mandatory three-day waiting period when buying a gun could help save lives from gun violence and suicide, a Harvard Business School professor said at a roundtable discussion on gun safety in Aurora.
The study, authored by Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra, Michael Luca and Christopher Poliquin, found that handgun waiting periods reduce gun homicides by 17% and gun suicides by 10%.
New legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Schaumburg, was based off the research and aims to create a national waiting period called the Choosing Our Own Lives Over Fast Firearms Act — or the COOL OFF Act.
Nearly 100 people attended the roundtable event at the Prisco Community Center in Aurora Friday that was co-hosted by Foster, Krishnamoorthi and also featured U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain and Malhotra.
“Anger or suicidal impulses can spur people to inflict harm on themselves or others,” Krishnamoorthi said. “The COOL OFF Act intends to provide a cooling-off period for those who are motivated by suicidal tendencies, anger or other violent but temporary intentions… It takes the passion out of crimes of passion.”
States with waiting periods have 750 fewer gun homicides per year than states without a waiting period, Krishnamoorthi said, adding that nine states and the District of Columbia have waiting periods. Nearly 1,000 more lives could be saved if waiting periods were adopted across the U.S., he said.
“The debate on waiting periods is over, in the scientific community," Malhotra said. "Where the debate is not over is in rooms like this or in rooms all across the country.”
Malhotra said he was inspired to study gun legislation and cool-off periods after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.Illinois already has a 72-hour cooling-off period for people who want to buy firearms.
Casten said gun control has become a “politically totemic” issue that fires people up and stirs passion on both sides.
The COOL OFF Act is one piece of a comprehensive set of gun safety laws legislators are trying to pass. Two other acts have both passed in the U.S. House which require mandatory background checks for gun purchases and closing loopholes involved with gun show and online purchases of guns.
Hain said he hopes to see collaboration between the state, county and local law enforcement as legislators try to create new laws.
“As legislators dial in to get this right, I anticipate they’ll be able to do this quickly because of the urgency of this topic,” Hain said. “Then it’s going to come down on local police to drive it home and make sure we are engaging with our community so they are aware of gun laws and we are doing everything we can on an enforcement level to detect illegally possessed firearms and get them off our streets.”
Foster said when he first went to Congress 11 years ago, it was in the wake of the mass shooting at Northern Illinois University. Today, he is mourning the five lives lost at the Henry Pratt workplace shooting in Aurora.
“Now there are two cities in the United States that bear the name of Aurora where a combined total of 17 innocent lives were snatched away due to gun violence,” Krishnamoorthi said, mentioning the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
Foster said Congress must pass common-sense gun reforms to make it more difficult for violent events like the Henry Pratt shooting to occur.
Casten added that a takeaway he had from Friday’s discussion was that not everyone agrees with the need for legislation.
“It’s important to have events because it shows the divide that exists on this issue and why it’s important to talk to each other,” Casten said.