Federal Bill H.R. 125: Firearm Purchase Waiting Period

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Last Updated on April 9, 2021.

Federal Bill H.R. 125 is relatively simple on its face. The legislation itself isn’t terribly complex.

But simplicity doesn’t make anything good. And Federal Bill H.R. 125 isn’t that great.

This is what it does. Then we’ll talk about the troubling parts.


Federal 7-day Waiting Period for a Whole Bunch of Stuff

The meat of this bill involves establishing a 7-day waiting period for purchasing a “semiautomatic firearm, a silencer, armor piercing ammunition, or a large capacity ammunition magazine.” This waiting period applies to purchases from an FFL and private party sales.

It’s worth noting that the 7-day waiting period is actually a 9-day waiting period because the bill specifies seven business days.

Given that this is a federal bill, this waiting period applies to purchases in all 50 states, regardless of the state laws.


“Armor Piercing Ammunition” and “Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines”

The text of the bill references “armor piercing ammunition,” which is defined in the 1986 amendments to the 1968 gun control act. The definition is detailed. But it boils down to mean armor piercing ammunition is anything with a core other than lead or with an especially heavy jacket.

ammo sizes

Federal Bill H.R. 125 specifies within the text what is considered to be a large capacity magazine: any ammunition feeding device that holds more than 10 rounds. That would put a 7-day waiting period on most standard capacity magazines.


What’s the Big Deal?

Is a 7-day waiting period all that bad?

Realistically speaking, it would just be an inconvenience for most firearm purchases. And it would almost be irrelevant for silencers (or suppressors, if you prefer), since getting the tax stamp for suppressor purchases can take weeks or months.

Most present the waiting period as a method for reducing crimes of passion where the murderer purchases the gun and murders someone without taking the time to cool off and really think it through.

Waiting periods might deter those sorts of crimes. But what about someone who’s been threatened or realizes they may need a defensive tool from an imminent threat, like an angry ex? They have to go through the waiting period, too.

It’s nearly impossible to quantify things that didn’t happen or to attribute things that did happen to indirect causes. But that leaves open the possibility that waiting periods could indirectly enable murderers. The waiting period sword indeed has two edges.

However, a large portion of Federal Bill H.R. 125 is dedicated to presenting evidence for the need for more gun legislation.

The presented evidence is not entirely unfounded. But it’s also at least slightly cherry picked. Most of the evidence presents a connection between more guns and more gun deaths, which is true.

However, the number of gun deaths is only a proxy for the crime that gun legislation seeks to stop: murder. This may be incorrect, but it seems unlikely that even the most ardent gun control supporter would opt for fewer gun related murders, but more murders overall.

The evidence in the bill does not demonstrate a connection between more guns and more murders. It’s simply assumed that reducing the number of gun deaths would reduce the overall number of murders.

That’s an intuitive conclusion. Why wouldn’t that be the case?

It’s hard to say why. But—at the state level—there’s only a weak correlation between rates of gun ownership, murder rates, and murders involving firearms. These things are not completely uncorrelated. But the correlation isn’t strong enough to suggest causation, which weakens the argument that fewer gun deaths would inevitably mean fewer murders overall.

Additionally, Federal Bill H.R. 125 makes the point that zero mass shootings have been stopped by armed civilians in the last 33 years. This appears to be categorically false.

All this isn’t to say that there’s no evidence that a waiting period would lead to fewer murders. There may be good evidence for it. But it’s not presented in the text of the bill itself. And some of the information appears to be either intentionally deceitful or manipulated to get a specific answer.

Any law that affects every law abiding citizen should be supported by stronger evidence than H.R. 125 offers.


Stop Waiting

There are certainly worse gun control bills in the works right now. Yes, Federal Bill H.R. 125 would be a violation of the 2nd Amendment. But it would just be an inconvenience for most.

However, there is the potential that the waiting period could put people in danger under certain circumstances. And it would most likely have no effect on the number of firearm-involved murders.

At best, it’s a waste of resources. At worst it’s a dangerous waste of resources.

Whether you agree or disagree with that statement, you can and should tell your representatives what you think.