Democrats continue push for gun-safety measures

By: - August 23, 2019 7:34 am

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This week’s Democratic Radio address is yet another sign that despite being rebuffed and ignored by GOP lawmakers, Wisconsin’s Democratic legislators are continuing their calls for popular gun safety laws. Over the past two weeks, in the wake of devastating back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, they have repeatedly called for change.

Some national advocates hoped that there might be a chance for bipartisan agreement on regulating guns, after President Donald Trump said he was interested in looking into “very meaningful background checks.” Then the president got on the phone with National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre and did a complete reversal back to NRA talking points. Again. 

The NRA having its way with politicians is nothing new. A recent Examiner piece on the NRA’s favorite Wisconsin politicians reported the top totals that Wisconsin legislators get from the gun lobby in donations.

At the unveiling of another background check bill last week, state Democrats, including Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul and sponsors of the bill, state Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) and state Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) stood shoulder-to-shoulder. 

Thursday, when Evers joined a Milwaukee radio show, he was asked about Republican Speaker Robin Vos saying the bill would be ineffective and “very unlikely” to be taken up by the legislature. Republicans also claimed it would lead to repealing the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. 

That, responded Evers on WTMJ-AM, is “frankly BS.” He noted if the Republicans gavel in and gavel out this session without meaningful gun safety reform, he’s open to calling them into a special session dedicated to that topic.

State Sen. LaTonya Johnson

Bill author Sen. Johnson gave this week’s Democratic radio address pushing for the popular measure that has more than 80% approval in Wisconsin–requiring universal background checks on all gun sales. A written transcript of her address is below: 

“Hello, I’m State Senator LaTonya Johnson with this week’s radio address.

“I was proud to stand with Gov. Tony Evers and my Democratic colleagues to introduce legislation to expand background checks for firearm purchases in Wisconsin.

“Currently, a dangerous loophole in federal law exists that allows a domestic abuser, fugitive from justice or felon to purchase a firearm from an unlicensed vendor without being required to undergo a background check.

“While the overwhelming majority of gun owners are consistently responsible with their firearms, as legislators we have a duty to keep our communities safe and close loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to purchase a gun. It is unacceptable to stand idly by while high-profile mass shootings routinely make headlines and bullets fly through city blocks taking the lives of innocent children. 

“Every person should have the opportunity to go to school, a place of worship, or any other public space in their community knowing that it is a safe place, free from the threat of deadly weapons and dangerous people. It’s time that we listen to the majority of Wisconsinites who support expanding background checks and join the other 21 states who have already closed this dangerous loophole.”


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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.