Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Democratic lawmakers have proposed universal background checks for gun purchases. It’s something Republicans have so far shown little interest in.
“I’m calling on the Republicans, and the Democrats in the legislature to pass a bill requiring universal background checks,” Evers said. “The bottom line is that the vast majority of gun owners and Wisconsinites across our state agree with us. No matter what kind of firearm you’re buying or where you’re buying it from, the process should be the same for everyone.”
Evers urged Republicans, who hold majorities in both chambers of the legislature, to support the bill. “And if they don’t, they need to answer why they think firearms purchases should be different for different people. So that they’re constituents understand why they won’t take a reasonable, moderate step to make our communities safer. Time to stop waiting for permission from the NRA.”
Attorney General Josh Kaul said the state Department of Justice runs thousands of such checks annually, without infringing on the rights of law abiding gun owners. Kaul said the Democratic proposal will close what’s commonly referred to as the gun show loophole. “There is a loophole that allows people – and that includes anybody – somebody who has been convicted of a violent felony, somebody who is subject to a domestic violence restraining order, to evade a background check and buy a gun without going through the process that the vast majority of firearm owners go through.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was on WISN radio in Milwaukee prior to the Democrats’ press conference Thursday morning, and the Republican leader said he’s not too interested in a universal background check bill. “If, you know, in your will you want to leave your old shotgun down to your son, I don’t think you should have to go through some sort of gun registry to be able to prove that you are worthy of getting that weapon,” Vos said. “So, there’s got to be some common sense in the middle and I think that’s what we are trying to find.”
The Democrats’ bill includes several exemptions, including sales to members of the military or law enforcement, and guns transferred as gifts, bequests or inheritance to family members. “Republicans said they couldn’t weigh in on universal background checks, because there wasn’t a bill,” Evers said. “Well by god we’ve got one. And we have it today.”
More than 80 percent of people who responded to a 2018 Marquette University Law School poll were in support of universal background checks.