Evers, Democrats offer gun background check bill

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MADISON, Wis. (AP/WMTV) -- Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic lawmakers are proposing an expansion of background checks for gun sales in the state.

Republicans who control the Legislature have said they are opposed to such efforts. But Evers and Democrats are pushing it in the wake of two mass shootings earlier this month, saying the public is behind the idea.

The bill unveiled Thursday would require background checks for handgun purchases with some exceptions. Sales to a firearm dealer, a law enforcement officer or member of the armed services, firearms classified as antiques or a gift or inheritance to a family member would be exempt.

"No matter what kind of firearm you're buying or where you're buying it from, the process should be the same for everybody. That's not a radical notion, it's a moderate one. In Wisconsin, we call it common sense," said Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a $10,000 fine and no more than nine months in prison.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos earlier Thursday said the Legislature was "very unlikely" to take up a universal background check proposal.

Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Jim Steineke released a statement in response to the proposal that read in part: "Simply put, it is dis-ingenuous to suggest that requiring background checks on private sales would have prevented the tragedies we've seen as a state and nation."