Commentary

Why Pa. needs a ‘Red Flag’ law: 72 hours could save your life | Opinion

(Photo via Getty Images/Colorado Newsline.)

By Ben Sanchez and Mike Zabel

Recognizing – and managing – impulsivity can save lives and greatly reduce potentially harmful situations.

We’ve all been mad as hell at some point, our brains and bodies reacting in real time to stressors and undesirable outcomes. Sometimes we internalize the strife; other times we lash out, hopefully with no more than a loud yell.

But it happens. We are human beings, and that means we are flawed.

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When guns are added to the impulsive stew, though, the potential for deadly outcomes increases dramatically.

This is why we believe the institution of a 72-hour waiting period for all firearm transfers in Pennsylvania is a smart, practical idea. And this is why we have again introduced legislation that would make this a reality in our commonwealth.

The issue of gun violence in this country long ago steamrolled past “nuisance” and, sadly, has become as American as apple pie and baseball.

It doesn’t need to be that way, though.

We repeat: Uncontrollable gun violence does not need to be our American reality.

There are various nonpartisan ways to address the scourge of gun violence. In the PA General Assembly, nearly every attempt to reduce gun violence in recent years has been met with silence by the majority party.

But with 1.2 million Americans shot over the last decade, and 39,000 Americans killed by gun violence every year, the status quo – or flatly ignoring attempts to make our communities and families safer – isn’t working.

Action must be taken. Despite what some might have you believe, that action is not – and never will be – the elimination of our 2nd Amendment rights as Americans.

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Instead, proposals like ours need to be seriously considered on a bipartisan basis, because bipartisan consensus among residents of this commonwealth – including from proud gun owners – is change is needed.

In short, waiting periods work.

In 1994, Congress passed The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which imposed a five-day waiting period for handguns purchased from licensed dealers. In the four years between the time the law was passed and when it was eliminated in 1998, there was a 17% drop-off in gun homicides and a 6% reduction in gun suicides across the country.

Suicide attempts are often impulsive with minimal, if any, planning. Studies suggest most suicide survivors only briefly contemplated their actions before an attempt.

Addressing that impulsivity, which a 72-hour waiting period for firearm transfers would help do, would literally save lives.

This is not preventing somebody from purchasing a gun. This instead provides a crucial “cooling off” period, while also potentially allowing law enforcement additional time to perform accurate background checks.

Our bill, H.B. 1306, was officially introduced this spring and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further review. Our attempt in the last legislative session, H.B. 2702, was ignored.

If you agree with us that implementing a 72-hour waiting period for firearm transfers would help save lives, contact your state representatives and state senators, as well as Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kauffman, and demand H.B. 1306 receive real consideration.

State Reps. Ben Sanchez and Mike Zabel, respectively represent the Montgomery County-based 153rd and the Delaware County-based 163rd state House Districts. They write from Harrisburg. 

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