May 1, 2015: Waiting Periods

The Florida Legislature recently passed HB 633

requiring women who desire to have a medical procedure to remove an unborn child (abortion) to wait 24 hours after consulting with the physician (Spectre of Death). 

Pro-choice proponents put forth it is a woman’s “right” to choose if the child that has been conceived is allowed to grow to term or be terminated.  That decision is solely to woman’s.  

There are exceptions to the waiting rule if the mother can produce evidence of rape, incest, domestic abuse or human trafficking.  The 24 hour wait is intended to be a time of reflection for the pregnant woman.  Abortion is a life changing event, a major life decision made by the mother that also affects the child.  Once done the consequences cannot be undone.

Florida statues also mandate a “cooling off” period for some firearms purchases.  Florida statute 790.0655 specifies a mandatory 3 day waiting period between the retail purchase and the delivery of a “handgun”.  The waiting period is designed to prevent crimes of passion (murder or other violent crime because of a sudden strong impulse). 

The three days exclude weekends and legal holidays.  For example if you purchase a handgun at a gun show on Saturday or Sunday and have it transferred to a local FFL, you can’t pick it up until Thursday.  The same goes for a retail purchase at a permanent store location.  Online purchases are also subject to the same waiting period because you have to pick up the gun from an FFL (Federal Firearms License) holder and they are required to keep records.  It is mandatory for the retailers to make sales records available for inspection to any law enforcement agency during normal business hours. 

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993.  The NICS is used in every retail gun purchase, but is not supposed to create permanent records.  However the retail transaction must leave a paper trail.

The age of self-consent for obtaining an abortion is 18 (there are exceptions to parental knowledge for women under 18).  The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 increased the minimum age of purchasing (through an FFL holder) a handgun to 21.

A woman can choose to have an abortion at age 18, but that same woman is prevented by Federal law from making a retail purchase of a handgun which could be used to prevent a forcible felony.  The same crimes that are used as exceptions to the abortion waiting period in Florida. 

Federal Law prevents a woman from making a retail purchase of a tool that could be used to prevent a rape, but it’s OK for her to have an abortion after the violence that impregnates her.  Do you see anything wrong with this scenario?

For personal protection inside the home, the 18 to 21 year old could purchase a long gun (shotgun or rifle).  Or she could resort to a private purchase of a handgun or a handgun could be gifted to her. 

But for all the time she is away from home she cannot carry concealed in Florida.  She can’t do that until after her 21st birthday.  The Florida legislature failed to pass legislation this year that would allow Florida “Concealed Weapons or Firearms License” holders to carry on college campuses. This law would have allowed 21 year olds with concealed carry permits to carry on campus where they could be in a position to protect themselves or others. 

Women 18 to 21 are prevented by Federal and Florida State law from obtaining and carrying the most effective tool in resolving violent disparity of force confrontations where deadly force would be justifiable.  So while legally an 18 year old is considered an adult and is capable of making some life altering decisions, self-defense with a handgun is not one of them.  While the abortion issue is particular to women, the self-defense issue is not gender specific. 

From the victims’ perspective, the unborn gets a 24 hour reprieve unless the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking.  The born potential victim gets a 3 day reprieve from their potential murderer if it is a crime of passion.   

Just as there are exceptions for the 24 hour abortion waiting period there are exceptions for the 3-day wait for purchasing handguns. “Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License” holders are exempt as are transactions where you are trading in another handgun.

It is a felony of the third degree for any retailer, employee or agent of a retailer to deliver a handgun before the expiration of the 3-day waiting period subject to the exceptions.  It is also a felony of the third degree for a purchaser to obtain delivery by fraud, false pretense or false representation. 

In both cases the “waiting period” is intended to preserve life.  For abortion there is no recourse once the procedure has been performed.  Anyone legally purchasing a firearm can decide to resell, or donate or otherwise transfer ownership. 

Long guns are treated differently.  18 year olds can purchase long guns and their ammunition.  Waiting periods for long guns are not mandated at the Federal or State level.  However Counties can impose waiting periods.  As an example Hillsborough County has a three day waiting period for long guns but neighboring Pasco does not. 

Until the waiting period is up, potential victims will have to depend on less lethal methods for protection against a lethal threat or go to a county without a waiting period and purchase a shotgun.  That may be a less desirable option because most gun ranges don’t allow shotguns.  Some Sporting Clays and Trap ranges don’t allow short barreled or handgrip stocks on shotguns used at their range.  It is much easier to find a range and practice with a handgun than a shotgun.  Both can be effective personal protection tools but the user still needs to become familiar with the gun. 

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