State lawmakers react to Molson Coors shooting

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Flags flew at half-staff at the State Capitol, marking the continuing reflection among lawmakers following a mass shooting at the Molson Coors campus in Milwaukee that left six people, including the shooter dead.

During a Black History Month event, members of the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus held a moment of silence in honor of the victims and families affected by the shooting.

“It’s just unimaginable,” Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D – Milwaukee) told CBS 58 after the event. Johnson’s district encompasses the Molson Coors campus. When she heard the news of the shooting, she went to the scene and spoke with first responders and workers. The Milwaukee state senator said that she was a changed person from when she went to work yesterday to when she ended her day.

“Yesterday we saw some of the worst that our city has to offer,” Johnson said. “But we also saw people come together and they created some of the best of what our city is known for especially in times of tragedy.”

Johnson added that lawmakers need to take action from something like the Molson Coors shooting from happening again.

“I think we need to have some serious conversations about our gun laws,” Johnson said.

But those conversations have been at a stalemate at the Capitol.

Just hours before the shooting, both Governor Tony Evers and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) reaffirmed their positions on the topic.

At a news conference for a separate topic Wednesday morning, Evers told reporters, “We need to have a discussion around that in this state.” The governor reiterated that he’s willing to take a loss on the issue so long as a vote is taken up.

“I think a lot of the provisions that are in place already, people are satisfied with,” Sen. Fitzgerald told reporters at a different news conference in Franklin.

Both Evers and Fitzgerald expressed condolences to the victims and families of the shooting.

Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, however, were explicit in calling for action on the issue.

Gov. Evers called a Special Session last year for the Legislature to take up a pair of gun safety bills: one on red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, and another on universal background checks on most firearm sales. Both proposals have at least 80 percent support from people in Wisconsin according to a January Marquette University Law School Poll.

But republicans ended that Special Session quickly. The GOP has said that they believe more efforts should be concentrated on mental health initiatives.

The lack of action is something that frustrates Sen. Johnson – whose community is the latest to suffer a mass shooting.

“For people who live in these situations, this is real life,” Johnson said. “That’s something that this building doesn’t seem to understand.”

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