Little movement on Wisconsin red flag laws despite recent mass shootings

NOW: Little movement on Wisconsin red flag laws despite recent mass shootings

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Highland Park shooting is thrusting red flag laws back into the spotlight here in Wisconsin.

Some Democratic lawmakers are voicing frustration with a continued lack of progress.

The Highland Park shooter attempted suicide a few years ago, threatened to kill people in his home a few months later, and eventually had 16 knives and other weapons temporarily confiscated. But he was later able to legally buy five guns.

State Senator Lena Taylor says the same thing can happen in Wisconsin. She said, "In the state of Wisconsin, red flag laws have not gotten the light of day."

Senator Taylor has tried, but she says each time the bills die in committee without a vote. "Red flag laws could be helpful. It would at least give another tool in the toolbox for law enforcement."

She advocates for ERPO laws, which stands for "extreme risk protection order". They would allow a judge to temporarily confiscate firearms if family or friends convince them the gun owner is a safety threat.

Several national polls find more than 70% of Americans strongly or somewhat strongly support red flag laws.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said, "We have to demand better from our state and federal government. And it's not going to get better until we do."

And Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said mass shooters often show warning signs. He added, "And I do think it's time to take a look at how do we alert when that happens?"

But Senator Taylor says Republicans in the statehouse refuse to act. "They don't want to do anything to create additional obligation -regulation, responsibility, whatever word you want to use- for gun owners."

But Republican Senator Andre Jacque disagrees, saying the goal is to follow due process. "I think there's certainly bipartisan interest in how we can make the system work better."

There's still a long way to go to stop mass shootings, even if a red flag law were to pass.

Senator Taylor said, "Will it be enough? No sir. It won't be enough. But will it be a beginning?"

Senator Taylor says she'll keep pressing for red flag laws despite persistent opposition.

And Senator Jacque says he'll be reintroducing two bills he's sponsored that would look at whether domestic abusers should have guns.

Share this article: