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Virginia lawmaker proposes waiting period for gun purchases in wake of Walmart mass shooting

Chesapeake police said the Walmart gunman legally purchased the firearm the morning of the shooting, something Del. Cliff Hayes said this bill could prevent.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — It’s been two months since a Walmart employee opened fire inside a store in Chesapeake, killing six of his coworkers.

Now, some Virginia lawmakers are proposing bills to curb gun violence in the state. Delegate Cliff Hayes, who represents the area where the shooting took place, is one of them. 

Hayes represents Virginia's 77th District, which includes parts of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

HB2273 proposes a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm.

Hayes said he brought the legislation forward after discussing it with some of the victims’ families, who he said shared a similar perspective as him.

That perspective – that a cooling off period would help prevent crimes like these.

“This is a way for us to assist these families so that this scenario is less likely to be carried out on other innocent people,” Hayes said.

According to the Chesapeake Police Department, the Walmart gunman legally purchased the firearm the morning of the shooting, which is something Delegate Hayes said this bill could prevent.

The bill would add three days between a prospective gun buyer signing off on a background check and actually purchasing the weapon.

“Go out and purchase a handgun and in the same day, carry that out...that horrific catastrophe out...we believe that's something that ought to be altered,” Hayes said.

The lawmaker referenced a study published by the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” that found waiting period laws can reduce gun homicides by roughly 17 percent. 

Hayes said the bill would not only provide a cooling off period, but also give officials ample time to complete a background check.

Virginia wouldn’t be the first state to introduce a law like this. Nine other state, and Washington D.C., have waiting period laws in place for purchasing firearms.

Now, the delegate says the bill is still waiting to be referred to a committee.

"This is what the families are asking for -- for us [lawmakers] to act in a responsible way and to create a waiting period," Hayes said.

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