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Handgun waiting period bill won't be introduced in Wyoming Senate
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Handgun waiting period bill won't be introduced in Wyoming Senate

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CHEYENNE — A bill proposing a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases failed Wednesday to pass the two-thirds vote needed for introduction in the Wyoming Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, the bill was intended to reduce suicide rates in Wyoming.

The final vote was 27 against and two in favor.

"This is not about trying to take someone's guns away. It's to prevent a circumstance where someone can't take it any longer," Rothfuss said. "This is to save a life, to save two lives, to save a few. It won't stop suicide, but it presents a chance to save that life."

According to research from Johns Hopkins University, while firearms are used in less than 10 percent of all suicide attempts, they account for more than half of all suicide deaths. 

Wyoming -- one of the least-restrictive states for gun purchases in the country -- also boasts one of its highest gun suicide rates. In 2016, Wyoming averaged nearly 15 gun suicides for every 100,000 residents -- more than twice the national average and third-most in the United States, according to the Violence Policy Center.

Overall, Wyoming ranked sixth among all states in regards to gun deaths between the years 2008 and 2017, according to the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

While increased access to mental health services -- something Wyoming is pursuing with initiatives like a suicide prevention hotline -- could be a factor, most research shows that regulated access to firearms could also play a role in reducing self-inflicted gun deaths. A study published last year by the Boston University School of Health found gun ownership was one of the most critical variables for teen suicides in states with high gun ownership.

Though suicide prevention is best met with a holistic approach, peer-reviewed research show that waiting periods can have a discernible impact on homicides and suicides -- between two and five percent, according to one peer-reviewed study published in 2017.

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Politics Reporter

Nick Reynolds covers state politics and policy. A native of Central New York, he has spent his career covering governments big and small, and several Congressional campaigns. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport in 2015.

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