When a governor calls a special legislative session, it means they want lawmakers to address issues of pressing importance that can’t wait for a regular session. Governor Evers called his first such session today in order to address gun violence in Wisconsin.
“Last month I stood with members of our communities, elected officials and law enforcement in announcing two critically important and common sense pieces of legislation. The first was expanding universal background checks in Wisconsin to ensure that no matter where a person is buying a firearm or who they’re buying it from, the process is the same for everyone.
The second bill to create an extreme risk protection order process that allows loved ones and law enforcement to petition to remove guns from those people who have been found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others,” said Evers.
Evers threatened to call a special session in August to address gun violence, but didn’t. Although Republicans control the legislature, Governor Evers urged the legislature this morning to work across both sides of the aisle.
“I want Republicans in the legislature to work with the Democrats to send these bills to my desk. and if they’re not willing to do so, than every single member of the legislature should have the opportunity to vote on it and have their vote speak for itself.”
Lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes also emphasized the need for legislators to come together this morning.
“I continue to stand as lieutenant governor to fight for common sense gun laws that keep guns out of the wrong hands. I’m also committed along with our governor to creating an environment where violence is not the answer, where everyone regardless of your zip code can get a family sustaining job, go to a quality school, and have access to quality affordable health care and it’s past time that we come together as one on a unified front in senseless gun violence in this state. Only then will we have communities where every woman, man, child, will have an opportunity to thrive.”
Special sessions only require that the legislature meet to consider legislation on a topic. They don’t require that the legislature take any specific action. And Wisconsin’s top two conservative lawmakers — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — say they don’t see gun control legislation happening anytime soon. In August, Speaker Vos told conservative Milwaukee talk radio host Jay Weber that he doesn’t see a red flag law happening.
“The idea of a red flag law basically says that we’re going to take peoples’ constitutional rights away before they commit a crime – because they could. Well, that is a fundamental principle for many of us that just is very difficult to get around. And I think it is very likely that we’ll never take up a red flag law,” said Vos.
Although Republicans like Vos argue that this legislation will infringe on individual’s second amendment rights, State Representative Melissa Sargent pushes back on that narrative:
The red flag law as well as universal background check bill absolutely protect the Second Amendment. It’s a false dichotomy that we have to choose between common sense life saving legislating and protecting the Second Amendment. My family owns guns and we know that one in three families in Wisconsin — one in three people in Wisconsin — owns firearms as well. What we’re trying to do is make sure that law abiding citizens continue to be able to have access to their firearms and we are making sure that folks that either are going to be harmful to themselves or others or potentially plan some nefarious action do not have access to firearms, said Sargent.
Representative Sargent also said she stresses that gun control laws do not have to divide Wisconsinites along party lines.
A recent Marquette Law School poll found 80 percent of Wisconsinites support universal background checks, and 81 percent support red flag laws.
Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald did not respond to a request for comment by the time of broadcast.