Oak Creek mayor hopes for real solutions in federal gun control debate


by Chris Patterson

OAK CREEK -- When people talk gun control they often bring up the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek.  Now the Oak Creek Mayor wants the discussion to go beyond and he's headed for Washington.

Mayor Steve Scaffidi  hopes to find real solutions for what he calls a violence problem - not necessarily  a gun problem. 

"We can find some way to impact this problem,” Scaffidi said. “Not throw our hands up and say we can't do anything."

Scaffidi dealt with a mass shooting just months into his first term.

"My life has changed.  I feel that every day. I promised that community, the Sikh community, and our community at large that I'd do something about it."

Now he'll represent Oak Creek in meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and a select group of mayors.

"It's frequently phrased as gun control,” Scaffidi said.  “But I think we almost have to look beyond that now and talk about a broader term of violence control because really that's what we're talking about."

Scaffidi owns two guns.  He believes safe gun storage, mental health resources, and training can help going forward.  He knows the issue is divisive, but thinks good can come from the conference.

"My point all along is discussion is good.  If you bring in all the parties, maybe there are some common sense things we can come up with."

As Scaffidi heads to Washington, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin Chairman Kanwarjit Bajwa wants to see better background checks for gun buyers.  That includes resale.

"We should have better checks on a person,” Bajwa said.  “It should be deep on his schooling, his work, his career, what the person has been doing.  And making sure he's okay and he's not mentally disturbed."

Bajwa says the community is still going through the healing process.

"We are still assuring people that everything is okay now. But it takes time, time is the biggest healer."

While Mayor Scaffidi just wants progress from the top.  Quickly. 

"Real solutions that make a difference right away,” Scaffidi said.  “That don't require three to five years of legislative discussion and votes."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won't be attending the conference in Washington.  But last week he was in Minneapolis to talk about gun violence at a regional gun summit.  He recommended stricter laws on assault rifles and gun trafficking


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