State Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison), along with other democrats, introduced two new pieces of gun control legislation last week. One bill aims to expand background checks throughout the state, while the other would establish a risk protection order system.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in our country. The legislature cannot continue to ignore this issue while our friends, neighbors and communities are suffering and there are common sense solutions in front of us,” said Agard.
The bill focused on background checks would outlaw firearm sales unless a background check is provided and the sale is conducted via a federally licensed firearm dealer. Violators of this law would be unable to possess a firearm for two years and potentially receive fines of up to $10,000 or spend up to nine months in prison. Under current state law, private retailers are not required to perform a background check on firearm transfers.
The latter bill would prohibit people who are at risk of harming themselves or others, or those with domestic abuse charges, from owning a firearm. Police officers and family members would be able to petition to the court, preventing potentially harmful individuals from owning firearms. Each order of prevention would stay in place for one year, but orders may be subject to extension or renewal.
“Everyone deserves to live in a safe community and without the fear of gun violence. However, this is not a reality for too many people across our country and in our own state. We cannot continue to accept the gun violence that plagues our society. I am proud to introduce common sense legislation to close the background check loophole and establish Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” said Agard. “Gun violence is a public health crisis and it is long past time our state government stepped up and addressed this issue.”
Other Democrats throughout the state expressed their support.
“Gun safety and the impacts of violence are extremely important [issues] for my district,” said Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee), “but it’s also important to people all across this state.”
A spokesperson representing Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) voiced concern about the bills, citing threats to the Second Amendment and due process.
“Wisconsin laws already say if you’re a felon, you lose your right to own a gun,” Vos’ spokesperson, Angela Joyce, said in a statement. “With Democrats yet again considering confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens, it shows just how determined Democrats are to take away guns.”
Attorney General Josh Kaul announced his support for the bills on Thursday at a press conference.
“The vast majority of Wisconsinites, about 80%, support passage of this common-sense legislation. And that’s what this is, common sense,” said Kaul.
Kaul spoke on the timeliness of the bills, addressing an increase in mass shootings across the country, as well as the ongoing pandemic which caused many Americans’ increased mental health issues from isolation.
“We must listen to the voices of the people of Wisconsin, and take tangible steps to reduce gun violence,” said Agard. “We just have to have the bravery to do so.”
State news editor