Democratic state legislators say they are hopeful members of the Republican-controlled legislature will support a proposed bill to close a loophole in-state allowing private gun sales without a criminal background check.
The bill, sponsored by Milwaukee state Representative Jon Richards, would require background checks on guns sold by private individuals on the internet, or at private gun shows and flea markets. The bill has strong support from law enforcement. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says the bill would reduce gun violence, and called on legislators to pay attention to polls that show a vast majority of citizens in support of requiring these background checks. He spoke at a news conference in Madison:
"As respectfully and as professionally as I can manage, I'm asking the legislature to put aside the talking points. Think about how you would feel. How many victims do you need to hear from to identify with your constituents, all of whom could be a victim of a firearms violence by someone who has procure a gun legally with the intention of using it unlawfully?"
So far, no Republican legislators have signed on to the bill. But bill sponsors say the law enforcement support should help swing some support from the other side of the aisle.
State representative Janet Bewley is a Democrat from Ashland. She says unlike most Democrats, she supported concealed-carry legislation. And she believes that while this bill will not prevent all gun buys that lead to murder or injury, it is a step in the right direction: "This is something that is reasonable and that most people, I believe, will find that is a logical approach to a very big problem. It will not solve all, but it is a wonderful first step."
Governor Scott Walker and Republican leaders have so far declined to support new gun control legislation and proposed reducing gun violence by improving mental-health care access for potentially violent individuals.