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.
Gov. Tony Evers has called the legislature into special session November 7th to take up gun reform legislation. The two bills to be taken up this week are bills that address Background Checks loopholes (AB 431) and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO).
As of 11/4/19, there have been 357 mass shootings, 32,991 people killed and 24,983 people injured by guns in our country this year . These numbers include 589 children injured or killed age 11 and under, and 2,580 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 As you read this, these numbers are already outdated, because with each passing day, they rise.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, but to date Wisconsin's Republican-led legislature has not engaged on gun reform despite polling on this issue showing that 80% of Wisconsin voters support universal background check legislation, including 75% of households that own a gun. However the gun lobby, in particular the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), has very deep pockets, and their priorities are not in line with the general public.
We need our legislators to listen to their constituents, the people who elected them to their positions, and pass laws that will reduce gun deaths and violence in Wisconsin. We need to make our schools, churches and public places safer. Governor Evers has made it clear that he supports meaningful gun reform and would sign good 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. Please contact your legislators to ask them to protect 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. Sargent and Sen. Johnson introduced AB431, a Universal Background Check bill that would close Wisconsin’s current loopholes. Currently a background check is not required when guns are purchased at a gun show or via a private seller. Governor Evers is strongly in support of this legislation, and would sign it into law if it passed the Assembly and Senate. However, Republican leadership has been vocal about their unwillingness to engage despite 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.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO):
Rep. Sargent and Sen. Taylor just introduced AB573/SB530, 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.
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.
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:
Sara Finger, Executive Director