Why is strong gun reform a high priority for WAWH? Gun violence is a women’s health issue and a domestic abuse issue. More than 50% of intimate partner homicide victims in American are killed by males with a gun, and in over 50% of mass shootings the victims were intimate partners or family members.  The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations can increase the risk of homicide for women by as much as 500 percent.
As of 9/19/19, there have been 303 mass shootings, 10,716 people killed and 21,327 people injured by guns in our country this year . These numbers include 502 children injured or killed age 11 and under, and 2,219 teens ages 12-17. As you read this, these numbers are already outdated, because with each passing day, they rise.
After each mass shooting, people express outrage, anger, sadness. A common theme echoes across social media platforms, the helplessness to make it stop. The attention quickly fades away, until the next major mass shooting - which we all know is coming, we just don’t know when or where.
It is well within the power of our state legislators change this cycle. Inaction or excuses made simply mean they choose not to make gun reform their priority. The gun lobby, in particular the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), has very deep pockets, but their priorities are not in line with the general public. A recent poll showed that 80% of Wisconsin voters support universal background check legislation, including 75% of households that own a gun. People are not asking for the number of “code red” intruder drills grade school kids experience to increase, they want to see the number of kids killed in classrooms across our nation to go down.
We need our legislators to pass laws that will reduce gun deaths and violence in Wisconsin and make our schools, churches and public places safer. Governor Evers has made it clear that he supports gun legislation reform and would sign meaningful legislation into law. Public support is firmly behind smart measures to curb violence, including universal background checks.
Below is an outline of some of the strong gun reform legislation introduced in Wisconsin this session that WAWH supports. This is legislation already introduced that is ready to be moved along the legislative process to become law. Please contact your legislators ask them to protect us all in Wisconsin by supporting and ensuring these bills become law. This isn’t about political and partisanship, it is about saving lives.
Universal Background Checks:
Wisconsin’s needs to enact Universal Background Check legislation as it has been proven to save women’s lives. In states that have universal background checks, women are 46% less likely to be shot to death by intimate partners. A 2018 poll showed that the vast majority, a whopping 81% of Wisconsin voters are in favor of background checks, including 78% of gun-owning households.
Rep. Melissa Sargent and Sen. Latonya Johnson recently introduced a Universal Background Check bill (LRB 3949) which would close Wisconsin’s current loopholes currently don’t require a background check when guns are purchased at a gun show or via a private seller. Governor Evers is strongly in support of this legislation, so if we can get it passed by the Senate and Assembly it can become law. However, Republican leadership has indicated their lack of willingness to engage on this in the face of such strong public support. Pressure needs to mount on this issue. Our legislators on both sides of the aisle need to make this a priority.
Red Flag Laws:
Assembly Bill 334, introduced in early July, would prohibit individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a firearm and possession of a firearm by people found not guilty due to mental disease or defect. Given the documented nexus between domestic abuse and gun homicides, this legislation is crucial to protect lives.
48-Hour Waiting Period:
Senate Bill 312, introduced on June 7th (National Gun Violence Awareness Day), would restore Wisconsin’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. Wisconsin had a waiting period on the books until 2015, when the Wisconsin legislature eliminated the requirement that a federally licensed firearm dealer wait 48 hours to transfer a handgun. Research has shown that waiting periods can reduce gun homicides by 17% and gun suicides by 7-11%.  Wisconsin needs this legislation restored.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO):
Rep. Sargent and Sen. Taylor just introduced LRB 4383, which would create an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) process where if a person is likely to injure themselves or another, a family member or law enforcement officer can petition to temporarily prevent the person from possessing a firearm.
We are not helpless. We have the power of our vote and must reach out to our elected officials to make our expectations crystal clear. Good legislation, aimed at reducing gun violence and deaths, is introduced each session just to be ignored and languish. Given what we know about gun violence, and the proven effectiveness of specific types of legislation, inaction by legislators equals complicity.
What you can do:
Cecely Castillo, Policy Director