Assembly Democrats recently announced the creation of a new gun safety advocacy coalition to counter GOP efforts to relax gun regulations.
State Reps. Terese Berceau, Melissa Sargent and Lisa Subeck, who all hail from Madison, held a news conference at the state Capitol to announce the formation of the Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety.
The coalition includes:
• The Wisconsin chapter of the National Physicians Alliance.
• The Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
• The Wisconsin Council of Churches.
• Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, or WAVE.
Berceau said the coalition would lobby for gun safety bills, look for places to change gun policy and talk to people about gun violence.
She said she’s flabbergasted that Republicans who control the Legislature have done nothing to tighten gun regulations in the wake of mass shootings around the country and have instead chosen to loosen restrictions.
She also noted that Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in 2015 that eliminated the state’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.
Now the GOP is considering a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without any training or permits. That measure would create licenses allowing concealed carry on school grounds.
The National Rifle Association and Wisconsin Gun Owners, Inc., have registered in favor of the proposal.
Walker signed a bill in April calling for concealed carry license renewals to begin when the old license expires. Wisconsin law had said that licenses are valid for five years from the date of issuance, prompting complaints from some Republican constituents that renewing early cheated them out of several months on both their old and new licenses.
Berceau accused Republicans of doing the bidding of gun manufacturers at the expense of people’s lives.
“It’s very sad we have politicians choosing gun manufacturers … rather than the citizens of their districts,” Berceau said. “The answer is supposed to be more guns and security? It’s unfathomable.”
Berceau touted a bill she introduced in February that would require universal background checks for all gun purchases. Coalition members crowded around her with signs that read “Background Checks Save Lives” and “Background Checks Make Sense!”
The same bill failed last session.
Berceau acknowledged the new version probably will go nowhere, too, but she wants to signal that at least some legislators care.
Coalition members were more optimistic about change.