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Evers, Wisconsin Democrats propose gun background check bill

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Governor Tony Evers and other democrats introduced a bill that would implement universal background checks on most sales of firearms in Wisconsin.

“Enough is enough,” Evers said in a news conference at the State Capitol Thursday.

The call for action by the governor comes after multiple high-profile shootings, including in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio and most recently Philadelphia.

The bill requires background checks for most sales or transfer of guns. Exceptions include if the firearm is sold or transferred to a licensed firearms dealer, law enforcement or a member of the armed services. It also does not apply to antique guns or gifts between family members.

“We want to make sure we get something done,” Evers said. “This is a moderate, moderate proposal.”

Evers and Democrats cited public support as a reason the bill should be considered by the Legislature. A March 2018 Marquette University Law School Poll found that 81% of voters support such background checks, while 16% opposed them. That poll followed the Parkland, Florida shooting.

The governor said it is now on Republicans to take a position on the matter.

“We have a bill. They need to respond,” Evers told reporters. “We need to have people going on the record whether they’re for this or against this.”

The bill, and other ideas proposed by Democrats like a red flag law, face steep opposition from Republicans, who control the Assembly and Senate.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) oppose the bill on universal background checks as well as the idea of a red flag law. CBS 58 reached out to both of their offices for an interview but both Vos and Fitzgerald were unavailable Thursday.

Vos did speak on The Jay Weber Show on WISN-AM Thursday morning and said lawmakers need to focus efforts on other underlying issues of gun violence.

“My hope is that we can focus on what can actually get done,” Vos said on the program. “That’s dealing with mental health issues, making sure people make better decisions as opposed to taking away people’s constitutional rights with very dubious reasons and with very limited, if any, effective results.”

One option Gov. Evers is still considering is calling a special session.

“That’s still an option,” Evers said. “We believe that people will get behind this and that we can pass it in regular session but if not, then I’m not opposed to that.”

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