Gun debate: less or more?

By  | 

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- As mass shootings increase by the week, Wisconsin state leaders are at odds over the best way to mitigate gun violence.

On September 19, 2018, Dane County experienced what many parts of the country have before: a mass shooting. Four people were shot by a co-worker at WTS Paradigm. Investigators found out the co-worker was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had previously lost rights to conceal and carry in South Dakota. He bought parts for the gun online and assembled it at his Madison home, authorities said.

"I am very frustrated that we have done nothing to change any of our laws when it comes to the ability for people to obtain weapons like this," Middleton Police Chief Charles Foulke said.

Democratic lawmakers, Governor Tony Evers, and Attorney General Josh Kaul are pushing for new laws.

In August, a universal background check proposal was introduced. On Thursday, a "red flag" law was proposed. "Red flag" laws allow police to take someone's gun away if they are a harm to themselves or others.

"Right now, there are background checks on purchases of frames and receivers by the Federal Government but that doesn't apply to private sales so if someone is making an online purchase -- there would be no background check, and we want to see a change to that," Kaul said.

The Legislature's top two Republicans say Democratic Gov. Evers wants to take people's guns away.

"It's widely known that we believe this legislation poses threats to due process and the 2nd amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," reads a statement from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

The bills have virtually no chance of clearing the Republican-controlled Legislature. The GOP has long insisted that restricting access to guns won't stop mass shootings and would infringe on Second Amendment rights. They say the answer is focusing on mental health.

Nik Clark says that is where Republicans are wrong.

The president of Wisconsin Carry Inc. has spent years fighting to maintain gun rights. He says a solution to mass shootings would be more people stepping up their self defense by getting a conceal and carry permit. He says not everyone needs to have a gun, but if more people did, it could protect themselves and others from a mass shooting.

"I think that is starting the conversation at gun control.. when I think the conversation should be started way before that. I think the conversation should be started at self defense," Clark said.