Anticipating Thursday’s special session on gun safety? Don’t blink.

By: - November 6, 2019 3:21 pm
Gov. Tony Evers announces his call for a special legislative session on gun safety measures at City Hall in Milwaukee on Oct. 21, 2019 (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Lt. Governor.)

Gov. Tony Evers announces his call for a special legislative session on gun safety measures at City Hall in Milwaukee on Oct. 21, 2019 (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Lt. Governor.)

The Assembly convenes Thursday for its second to last day of the year and Republicans revealed on Tuesday that the surprise focus of that session day will be its attempt to override four of Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes. 

It would be easy to lose sight of the fact that Thursday Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. is when Evers has ordered that a special session on gun safety will take place  “solely to consider and act upon” the following two items:

  • One: Red-flag laws or Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) that allow family members or law enforcement officials to get a judge’s order to restrict gun availability to people at risk of harming themselves or others.
  • Two: Universal background checks for all gun sales, which would close a loophole “for the sale or transfer of firearms.”

The problem, say Evers and Democratic legislators who have pushed hard for these measures, is unaddressed gun violence in the state and the nation. It includes mass shootings, hate crimes, suicides, school shootings and more. Evers has declared it is a crisis that must be addressed.

The governor asked that the legislature address the issue and send him gun-safety bills to sign. He warned that if it did not, he would force the issue. They did not. So he did.

In a legislative session that has largely avoided big-picture problems, this is a crisis that the Wisconsin voters want addressed and Evers picked the two bills for his special session call because 80% or more of the public, including gun owners and Republicans, overwhelmingly back these two bills.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said the Republicans plan to gavel in the special session, which they are required to do by law and then promptly gavel out having taken up no bills and done nothing to address gun violence.

After the Assembly Rules Committee met on Tuesday to set the agenda for its regular meeting on Thursday, reporters asked Majority Leader Jim Steineke if the Assembly will convene the special session called to address gun violence. 

“What we’ve got on the calendar is what we’re going to take up,” Steineke responded, pointing to the regular session calendar where Republicans had added four override attempts of the governor’s vetoes, which are likely to dominate the news on the day of the special session, and have nothing to do with the gun-control bills. He added, with a casual shrug, “We’ll gavel in the session.”


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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.