Democrats call Biden’s limited gun restrictions ‘a start’, GOP opposition halts progress in WI

NOW: Democrats call Biden’s limited gun restrictions ‘a start’, GOP opposition halts progress in WI

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Democratic lawmakers are calling President Biden’s limited gun restrictions a step in the right direction, but acknowledged there’s more to be done to address gun violence. 

After a slew of mass shootings across the country, President Biden announced a series of executive actions, including directing his Department of Justice to close a loophole that allows people to purchase “ghost guns.” They are untraceable weapons that can be put together from gun parts online and don’t require a background check. 

State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) was pleased to see action from the White House, but said there’s still work to be done on the state level to prevent tragedies.

“Any place can become a future mass shooting site and the fact is we can do something to prevent that.” said Larson. “We can’t prevent every gun death, but there’s a heck of a lot we can do.”

For years, Democrats have sought to expand background checks and implement “red flag” laws, which allow courts to temporarily prevent someone from obtaining a gun if they’re a threat to themselves or others. 

However, both measures have been long opposed by Republicans who don’t think additional laws would make a difference. 

“I think until we get people’s hearts in the right place where they learn resilience, problem-solving skills, these things are going to keep happening,” said Rep. Barb Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc), after two employees were shot and killed at a Roundy's warehouse distribution center in her district. 

President Biden asked the DOJ to create a model “red flag” law for states to enact, and the administration has plans to tighten regulations on stabilizing braces for pistols used in the Boulder, Colorado, shooting that left 10 people dead.

“Ultimately this is a problem that can’t be addressed with executive orders, we need legislation that’s going to address some of these issues,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “There are common sense measures we can take, like background checks, that can make our community safer.” 

A majority of Wisconsin voters, 80%, support requiring background checks on all gun purchases, according to a 2019 poll by Marquette University Law School. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) believes the state already has a “system in place where the vast majority of weapons already go through that background check,” but gun sales between two people in person, online or who exchange firearms at a gun show don’t require one. 

Governor Evers called for a special session in 2019 for lawmakers to consider approving red flag laws and expanding background, but Republicans ended the session within seconds.

Evers is once again proposing both measures in his state budget along with a 48-hour waiting period for a gun purchase. GOP leaders have vowed to remove those agenda items.

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