Update on state waiting periods. Judicial decision in California provides a useful summary of waiting period laws.
ten states and the District of Columbia impose a waiting period between the time of purchase and the time of delivery of a firearm. Three states and the District of Columbia have waiting period laws for the purchase of all firearms: California (10 days), District of Columbia (10 days), Illinois (3 days for pistols, 1 day for long guns), and Rhode Island (7 days). Four states have waiting periods for hand guns: Florida (3 days), Hawaii (14 days), Washington (up to 5 days from the time of purchase for the sheriff to complete a background check), and Wisconsin (2 days). Connecticut has a waiting period for long guns that is tied to an authorization to purchase from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. Minnesota and Maryland have a waiting period for the purchase of handguns and assault rifles (7 days). There is no federal waiting period law. See18 U.S.C. § 922(s) (Brady Act‟s 5-day waiting period expired in 1998).
For California, the history of waiting periods is given as such:
In 1923, the California Legislature created awaiting period for handguns,whereby no handgun, pistol, or other concealable firearm could be delivered to its purchaser on the day of purchase. . . .
In 1953, the 1923 handgun waiting-period law was codified into the California Penal Code with no substantive changes. . . . One California court has cited legislative hearing testimony from 1964 in which witnesses testified that this 1953 law was “originally enacted to cool people off,” but that this law was “not enforced with regard to individual transfers through magazine sales nor at swap meets.” . . . .
In 1955, the California Legislature extended the handgun waiting period from 1 day to 3 days. . . . No legislative history has been cited that addresses why the waiting period was extended from 1 to 3 days.
In 1965, the California Legislature extended the handgun waiting period from 3 days to 5 days. . . . The legislative history indicates that the Legislature extended the waiting period from 3 days to 5 days in 1965 because the 3-day waiting period did not provide Cal. DOJ sufficient time to conduct proper background checks on prospective concealable firearms purchasers, before delivery of the firearms to the purchasers. . . .
Additionally, a report from the 1975-1976 session of the Senate Judiciary Committee indicates that the “purpose of the 5-day provision is to permit the law enforcement authorities to investigate the purchaser’s record, before he actually acquires the firearm, to determine whether he falls within the class of persons prohibited from possessing concealed firearms.” . . . No legislative history relating to the 1965 law has been cited that relates to a “cooling off” period.
In 1975, the California Legislature extended the handgun waiting period from 5 days to 15 days. . . . The legislative history indicates that the California Legislature extended the waiting period from 5 days to 15 days in order to “[g]ive law enforcement authorities sufficient time to investigate the records of purchasers of handguns prior to delivery of the handguns.”
In 1991, the California Legislature expanded the waiting period to cover all firearms. . .