Firearm Waiting Period

March 4, 2019

by John McClaughry

Jeffrey Kaufman is a retired Internist and Emergency Physician from Burlington with years of experience. He recently sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary committee, which is considering a bill to impose a waiting period for firearms purchases, supposedly to prevent suicides. He writes:

“Psychologists and psychiatrists assess whether a person is suicidal, a danger to themselves, based on whether the person has a detailed plan to kill themselves and the means with which to accomplish it.  Neither, by itself, is sufficient.  The person is questioned in depth.  Saying they’re going to shoot themselves is not an indicator of suicidal risk, unless their plan includes, for example, the particular firearm they’re planning to use, where, when and how they’re planning to use it, alone or with others, have they discussed their plan with anyone.  They must also have means:  access to a firearm, a combination to a safe, access to ammunition, money to purchase a firearm and/or ammunition, etc.  Secondary gain is also assessed, who else will be affected by the suicide, who will be harmed, what statement is being made, what message is being sent, if any.

“It is exceedingly rare for a person to commit suicide without first having made detailed plans.  They may put a plan on hold, then pick it back up at a later time, but it does not come to fruition without planning and consideration.  Mandating a waiting period by law, before the purchase of a firearm, is placing a requirement the suicide has already met.  It’s not a deterrent.  The suicide accomplishes their goal, if not now, then later.  Those not truly suicidal do not die, also deliberately.

“The proposed waiting period legislation will impact ONLY law abiding Vermonters and would not be expected to reduce suicides! Neither the case of Andrew Black, nor suicide data, provide a compelling reason to knowingly endanger those at imminent risk of lethal danger by preventing them from purchasing self defense firearms at the time of need and requiring an intentional delay of several days!  I encourage you to reconsider the wisdom of this legislation as it is likely to do harm but very unlikely to do any good.”

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

Correction. An earlier version of this article stated Jeff Kaufmann was a psychiatrist. He is a retired Internist and Emergency Physician.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul LeGrand March 4, 2019 at 3:48 pm

So because someone may decide for any reason to misuse a Constitutional right, the rest of us have our rights infringed? How about a waiting period on purchasing a motor vehicle because some abuse the privilege by driving under the influence? How about limiting the free practice of religion because some abuse their authority? Let’s limit free speech while we’re at it because some abuse this constitutional right by saying stupid stuff? Stop trying to control criminals and the mentally unstable by infringing on the rights of citizens.


Carol Frenier March 5, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Thanks, John, for posting this. It a very clear statement of what’s real about suicides and firearms.


tom March 5, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Perhaps in some cases! They are not around to ask Waiting periods for Background Checks should not be a big deal for honest people..


Deanne March 9, 2019 at 12:20 am
Jim March 9, 2019 at 12:34 pm

As a non medical person, only a hunter and gun inthusisayi findarticle very interesting. Never heard the whole story before.


Ray Thomas March 9, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Tom’s comment is exactly the type of ignorance that belches forth from those with no respect for the Second Amendment. Lets see how he does if someone breaks into his house. The good Dr. Has it exactly right, the waiting period will do no good and, as usual, will only penalize law abiding citizens!


Thaddeus Cline March 11, 2019 at 12:42 am

Research shows a 17% drop in suicide In areas where a waiting period happens .
We know it works that’s why families and reasonable law makers want it.
It dose not effect your second amendment rights .
As to protecting yourself that would be grate if getting a gun would do that .
But unfortunately it dose not and never has . Having a gun in your home lifts up the chance you or someone living there will get shot by 7 times .
Your 31 times more likely to shoot your self your wife or husband your kids or your kids shoot you . Or a friend gets shot . Then protecting yourself or others in the home . I sure would like those odds when buying a lotto ticket.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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