A Salt Lake policeman and arms expert flew to Washington early Tuesday to try to convince Congress it should not pass a law requiring a seven-day wait before a purchaser can pick up a handgun.
Sgt. Dennis Tueller, a member of the police department's training division and a well-known small arms marksmanship and safety instructor, said there is absolutely no evidence that a waiting period reduces crime.Congress is expected to vote soon on the "Brady amendment," which would require a seven-day wait before a purchaser could pick up a handgun. The amendment is named for President Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, who was seriously wounded in March 1981 when John W. Hinckley Jr. - armed with a handgun - tried to kill the president.
Supporters say a waiting period would allow handgun buyers to cool off if they are bent on revenge, and would allow police to determine whether buyers are criminals or mentally unstable and, therefore, should be prohibited from purchasing weapons.
"A seven-day wait is a small price to pay to help make America's streets a safe place to take the family for a walk," said Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation in Washington, in announcing 11 police groups' support for the amendment.
Tueller disagreed. "Passing such a law would penalize honest citizens and cost already overworked police departments millions of dollars.
"Such a law, if adopted, would be a terrible burden to local police departments' bookkeeping and would require background checks of purchasers and countless hours of work.
"It can be proven that waiting periods don't solve the problem of criminals getting guns. A recent Department of Justice study shows criminals don't buy guns in retail stores. They get guns from other crooks, from friends and relatives or they steal them."
Tueller told the Deseret News Monday he will spend two days in Washington, trying to convince congressmen and their staff members who are uncommitted that a mandatory waiting period is a bad idea.
"I'm not alone. There will be scores of police officers from all over the United States in Washington this week doing just what I am because they believe, just as I do, that a mandatory waiting period is wrong."
"In this country, we have a tradition of always maintaining that someone is innocent until proven guilty. This kind of legislation - a mandatory waiting period before somebody can buy and pick up a handgun - does just the opposite. It presumes that anybody who buys a handgun has an evil intent and has to be checked out.
"This is far from the truth."
Tueller said a more important issue that Congress and others should face is gun safety.
"America had better start teaching people how to get along with each other, how to live calmer lives - and a great deal more about gun ownership and its responsibilities, marksmanship and gun safety.
"It has been estimated that there are several hundred million guns in American households. That number alone should indicate how difficult gun control - especially gun confiscation - would be in America.
What is needed, he said, is gun education. "People need to know more about guns, how they operate and how to use them safely. I can't believe we will ever see guns disappear in America. Therefore, we need to learn to live with them - enjoy them if we are shooters or hunters or collectors - but, at the bottom line, not be hurt by them."
He said probably the most important lesson Americans, and people all over the world, need to learn is self-control and how to live with themselves and with others peacefully.