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Bar Association President Calls For Waiting Period For Gun Purchases

February 4, 1989

DENVER (AP) _ The president of the American Bar Association said Friday he has asked Attorney General Richard Thornburgh to recommend a federal waiting period for the purchase of firearms, saying loopholes in gun laws make it easy to buy semiautomatic weapons.

Robert Raven, a San Francisco attorney and president of an organization that represents 350,000 lawyers nationwide, said at a news conference that the growing civilian use of militaryassault weapons has focused attention on ″a problem which our nation cannot afford to ignore.″ The association is meeting this weekend in Denver.

He cited the recent slaying of five schoolchildren and wounding of 30 others in Stockton, Calif., and a shooting last week at a Washington, D.C., school in which four were wounded.

Raven said that the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 gives Thornburgh the power to develop and begin a federal system to identify potential purchasers of handguns who are ineligible by federal law to own firearms.

“We urge you to conduct the necessary study and swiftly complete your recommendations, and we specifically urge you to recommend a federal waiting period prior to the purchase of firearms,″ he wrote in his Feb. 2 letter to Thornburgh. In the letter, Raven did not recommend a time frame for a waiting period.

Raven said he has not heard from Thornburgh, but that he hopes to talk with him Saturday when the attorney general is scheduled to attend the meeting.

Raven said recent reports indicate the number of assault rifle sales has risen from 4,000 in 1985 to nearly 40,000 last year.

He said there is a ″glaring loophole in federal gun laws″ that has created easy public access to the assault weapons, which can be easily modified to be fully automatic.

″This problem is not going to go away on its own. After the Stockton incident, people flocked to gun shops to buy AK-47 lookalikes or other semiautomatic military weapons,″ he said.

″Just last week, a gunman opened fire on 200 students at a Washington, D.C., school, wounding four. Our nation must take immediate action to put an end to such gun-related violence.″

Also Friday, former Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart addressed the conference and urged lawyers to support a national community service program. He said it would replace student loan programs with a program that requires two to four years of community service in return for a college education.

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