New California Sen. Alex Padilla recently claimed that Americans can obtain a rifle quicker and easier in a majority of states than they can cast a ballot.
CapRadio's PolitiFact California Reporter Chris Nichols spoke with afternoon anchor Mike Hagerty about that claim in this week's Can You Handle the Truth? segment.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
On where Padilla gave his statement, and the context of it
It's important to remember that Padilla, up until a couple of months ago, was California's Secretary of State and in charge of elections. Voter access is an important issue to him.
The Democratic senator made this claim last week, shortly after the mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado. He was speaking during a hearing on gun violence in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"In a majority of states, new voters are able to obtain a rifle quicker than they're able to cast their first ballot," Padilla said. "It seems to me we have our priorities entirely backward when we make it easier to buy a gun than we do to cast a ballot."
On the veracity of this statement
PolitiFact found that on the numbers, and this is correct. About two-thirds of states have a faster process for obtaining a gun than casting a ballot when you consider that voters have to register weeks before an election.
Georgia is one example. In that state, a new voter must register to vote at least 29 days before an election, whether they plan to vote in person or by mail. That's according to the nonpartisan group vote.org.
But by contrast, there is no waiting in that state when someone buys a firearm. The attacker in the Atlanta-area shootings that killed eight people legally purchased a handgun. He passed what's known as an "instant background check," which can take just minutes.
Then he used the weapon the same day, according to the Associated Press.
On waiting periods and how California's gun control laws work
According to the Giffords Law Center, which advocates for gun control, only 10 states have waiting periods.
Gun control supporters say requiring a window or even a couple of days between the purchase of a gun and taking possession can create a "cooling off" period that will lead to less violence — both for people considering harming themselves or someone else.
Several states are considering adding a waiting period. That period is 10 days in California. And unlike some states, someone buying a gun in California must obtain a permit and register their gun.
But the process of voting in California is much faster than in a majority of states. It's one of 21 states that allow same-day voter registration. That's where you can register and vote all on the same day — you can even do that on Election Day here in California.
On how PolitiFact rated Padilla's claim about most states offering a faster process to buy a gun than vote
PolitiFact pointed out that obtaining a gun and casting a ballot aren't really parallel activities. It naturally takes longer to get ready for an election than to sell a gun.
But with that clarification, and given that two-thirds of states do have a faster process for buying a gun, PolitiFact rated the statement Mostly True.
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