Evers calls on Republicans to act on gun safety bills
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to take action on bills that would limit access to guns, which he said would make the state safer following a pair of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 people dead.
Evers, who said he was considering ordering a special session of the Legislature, called for lawmakers to pass a universal background check bill and a so-called red flag law that would make it easier to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
“We will look at everything we can do to make sure the people of Wisconsin are safe,” Evers said. “Let’s make it happen, let’s make it happen.”
Evers said he wants lawmakers to take action but that he’s not optimistic given Republicans’ lack of support for the ideas in the past. Republican legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Evers called for Democrats and Republicans to come together to address racism and gun violence.
“We can’t pretend this is something that only happens in Texas or other places in the country,” Evers said, noting that he was speaking on the anniversary of the 2012 attack in which a white supremacist killed six worshippers at a Sikh Temple near Milwaukee.
On Saturday in the Texas border city of El Paso, a shooter opened fire at a Walmart, killing 22 people and wounding more than two dozen others. Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, another gunman killed nine people and wounded at least 27 others.
President Donald Trump, in comments from the White House on Monday, called for bipartisan cooperation to respond to an epidemic of gun violence. Trump tweeted support for “strong background checks,” but he didn’t mention it in remarks later Monday. He has reneged on previous promises after mass attacks.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, of Wisconsin, joined with other Democrats in calling for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow the Senate to vote on a bill the House passed that would require federal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, including those sold online or at gun shows.
“The American people overwhelmingly support” expanding federal background checks on all gun sales, Baldwin tweeted. She called for an immediate vote “so we can start saving lives.”
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson issued a statement in which he didn’t mention expanding background checks, but he did signal support for a “red flag” law, which would allow family members to petition authorities to restrict a mentally ill person’s access to firearms. Trump also called for laws to both make it easier to commit those with mental illness and to keep them from having guns.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee, accused Trump of being “complicit” in the El Paso shooting, which authorities are investigating as a possible hate crime because of a racist, anti-immigrant screed that the suspected gunman may have posted online shortly beforehand.
“The El Paso shooting was an act of domestic terrorism by a white supremacist,” Moore tweeted on Sunday. “Trump has fanned the flames of white supremacists, emboldening them and exacerbating our gun violence epidemic.”
Johnson praised Trump for condemning “violent extremism.”
“But the long term solution lies in renewed faith, strengthened families, and less virtual socialization and more genuine human to human interaction in real communities,” Johnson said.
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbauerAP