MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin lawmakers on Tuesday, March 23 responded to questions about legislative options to enact gun reform in the state. Not surprisingly, Assembly leaders of both major parties fall on different sides of the debate.
Following the mass killings of more than a dozen people in Boulder, Colorado and the Atlanta area in less than seven days, the debate is again intensifying at the federal and state level.
Gun reform in Wisconsin
A 2019 Marquette University Law School poll found 80% of those surveyed in Wisconsin support expanding background checks and so-called "red flag" laws -- allowing family or law enforcement to take firearms if a person is deemed a danger by a judge.
Ahead of Tuesday's Assembly session, Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) said gun reform should be on the agenda.
"We should do everything possible to minimize the risks out there, demonstrate to the public that we care," Hintz said.
Gordon Hintz (L), Robin Vos (R)
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said the data is unclear if background check expansion would make residents safer, and laws on the books work as intended.
"We know the vast majority of weapons that are purchased in the state already go through a background check process," said Vos. "If they are done lawfully, it seems that we already have a process that if someone chooses to break the law, there’s very little we can do besides arrest them after they’ve committed the act."
Most famously, Gov. Tony Evers called for a special session on gun control measures back in 2019.
The Republican-controlled Legislature gaveled in and gaveled out without taking up the matter.
President calls for action
President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for the U.S. Senate to pass bipartisan gun reform bills that passed the House, expanding background checks on all commercial gun sales and close a loophole allowing some sales to be finalized before a background check.
"This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue," President Biden said.
An armored vehicle is parked outside the entrance of the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado where a mass shooting took place on March 22, 2021. (Photo by JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)
Law enforcement said the suspect in a Boulder shooting that killed 10 people bought the rifle used six days prior to the March 22 attack. The president is also pushing for banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
"I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone another hour, to take common-sense steps that will save the lives and the future, and urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act," said President Biden.
Police investigate a shooting on Piedmont Road in metro Atlanta on March 16, 2021. (FOX 5)
Prior to the 10 killings in Boulder, eight people killed in a string of shootings in the Atlanta area.
Yet again, federal gun reform could hinge on the elimination of the filibuster for Democrats to pass legislation in the Senate.
It is unclear if there is appetite to address the matter in Wisconsin.