Washington held Congressional hearings last week on a bill which would require a seven-day waiting period before a person could purchase a gun.

Witnesses were divided into two groups: Those who had either been wounded by a gun or had had a relative killed by one, and were in favor of the bill; and National Rifle Association lobbyists and Justice Department officials who were against it.I've never understood why anyone would object to waiting seven days for a firearm, so I sought guidance from Milton Hammmer, a pistol afficionado.

I asked Milton, "What is your objection to delaying gun purchases for seven days?"

"It's too long. Have you ever had to hold your breath for seven days for something you truly wanted?"

"If a week is a lifetime - but maybe you could do something useful in the meantime."

"Such as?"

"Community service. How about going into the slums and help the young people?"

"Go into the slums? They might shoot me."

"Ah, there you have it. Why do they have guns in slums? Because the shooters don't have to wait seven days to buy one. The law they're trying to pass is not aimed at honest, law-abiding Americans like yourself - it is to weed out people who purchase them to do bodily harm to others."

Milton replied, "I once had to wait seven days for an electric train set when I was a kid. I vomited every morning. The Constitution says I can buy a firearm any time I want to. That's because the Founding Fathers said that when someone wanted a gun, they should get it NOW."

"They just want the seven days to see if people have a criminal record or if they are crazy. That's not asking a lot."

"So you say. But pretty soon they'll be checking on citizens who are prone to causing gun accidents. Do you think a seven-day check on John Wilkes Booth would have prevented him from shooting Lincoln?"

"No, but John Hinckley might have been prevented from shooting Reagan."

"Well, tell me this," Milton said. "How come if the seven-day registration bill is so good for the country, President Bush is against it?"

"President Bush owes a lot to the National Rifle Association, and he doesn't want to offend them. They could do him a lot of damage in the election year if he starts supporting any gun control bills in this country."

Milton said, "I'm with him. No one in this country should be required to wait a week to shoot a duck."

"You're going to shoot a duck with a pistol?"

"If it was going to break into your house, wouldn't you?"