After Virginia’s Legislature Failed to Act in a Special Session Called After Virginia Beach Mass Shooting, Gun Safety Is Now a Key Issue In That State’s Elections Next Month
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Students Demand Action, both parts of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following response after Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald reportedly said a special session on gun safety laws is “not going to happen.”
“If the majority leader thinks voters will give lawmakers a pass if they fail to even consider these common-sense policies, we have news for him,” said Heather Driscoll, a volunteer with Wisconsin Moms Demand Action whose father died by firearm suicide. “Wisconsinites are watching closely and are ready for change.”
“With so much of the public supporting these policies, I can understand why opponents in the legislature are afraid of a special session,” said Jack Larsen, a student leader with Students Demand Action at the University of Wisconsin. “But when you’re an elected official, you shouldn’t look for a free pass out of a public debate — especially not when lives are at stake. If our leaders won’t lead, we will elect new ones who will.”On Monday, Gov. Evers called on lawmakers to convene a special session to debate two gun safety policies:
- Requiring background checks on all gun sales
- Enacting a Red Flag law, which would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order temporarily removing firearm access when there is evidence someone poses an extreme risk to self or others
GUN VIOLENCE IN WISCONSIN
Nearly 600 Wisconsinites are killed by guns each year. Over two-thirds of those deaths are by gun suicide — an average of over one per day. Almost three-quarters of all homicides in the state involve a gun. And the problem is getting worse: over the past decade, the gun death rate in Wisconsin has increased by 36%, a higher increase than in neighboring Michigan and Minnesota.
A recent report showed that in 2018 alone, there were as many as 46,560 ads on Armslist.com offering guns for sale in Wisconsin with no background check required.
Under current federal law, background checks are required only for gun sales by licensed firearm dealers. No background check is required for sales by unlicensed individuals, who can sell guns to strangers they meet online or at gun shows – with no background check, no questions asked, and no way to know whether the buyer is a criminal or otherwise prohibited from having guns. 15 states and the District of Columbia have closed this loophole by enacting laws requiring background checks on all gun sales. Wisconsin has not.
RED FLAG OR EXTREME RISK LAWS
Twelve states have enacted Red Flag laws since last year’s mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., and five of these new laws have been signed by Republican governors. In addition to the District of Columbia, 17 states have now enacted Red Flag laws, including Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, and Florida.
Red Flag laws, also known as Extreme Risk laws, permit immediate family members and law enforcement officers to petition a court for an order, often known as an extreme risk protection order, temporarily removing guns from dangerous situations. If a court finds that a person poses a serious risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm, that person is temporarily prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns, and any guns they already own are held by law enforcement or another authorized party while the order is in effect.
Perpetrators of mass shootings and school shootings often display warning signs before committing violent acts. Interventions in states with Red Flag laws have already prevented these potential tragedies. Research has also documented the impact Red Flag laws can have preventing suicides.