After a shooting in Brookfield this weekend, two Democratic legislators are planning to reintroduce a bill that would ensure domestic violence offenders surrender their guns to police within a two-day period.
The shooting suspect, Radcliffe Haughton, took his own life after killing three and wounding four others Sunday at the Azana Salon and Spa, according to Brookfield Police Chief Daniel Tushaus.
He had recently been given a four-year restraining order from his wife, an employee at the spa. As a stipulation of the restraining order, Haughton was required to turn in his firearm.
Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton, announced they are planning on reintroducing a bill in response to the Brookfield incident during the next legislative session. The Legislature first discussed the bill in 2009.
Current law states a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm if they are perpetrators of domestic abuse, child abuse, harassment or if they caused some type of harm to others, according to a Legislative Reference Bureau analysis.
A statement from Taylor and Schaber outlined several loopholes in the current law. Their bill would ensure if the person does own a firearm, he or she must surrender it, or a warrant for their arrest will be issued after 48 hours. The statement said the bill received wide support in 2010 from groups like the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Taylor said the shooting demonstrates the need for a standardized system of enforcing current gun laws.
“Sunday’s tragic incident in Brookfield points to a need to adequately enforce laws already on the books,” Taylor said in the statement. “Across Wisconsin there are inconsistent standards, or sometimes none at all, for the collection of weapons owned by domestic abusers.”
She said in the statement she hoped both sides of the aisle, as well as both victim support groups and gun rights groups, could work together and pass the bill.
Whether the bill will be effective remains a question to some, according to Jeff Nass, president of Wisconsin Force, a group affiliated with the National Rifle Association.
He said he did not think the bill would be beneficial in curbing domestic violence, citing other ways individuals can inflict harm. He also noted it would not have prevented the Brookfield shooting.
“We don’t think it would have stopped this crime,” Nass said. “To use this tragedy to reintroduce this bill is not logical.”
He also said the proposal would be impractical, because there would be no way for officials to know what firearms the person has to begin with. He said the person could buy firearms in the black market, which he said would cause a problem for officials who would not be aware of the purchases.
Tony Gibart, Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence president, said his organization supports the bill, as it did in 2010. Despite the organization’s support for the measure, he said he has some concerns about whether the law would actually fix the problem.
Several counties in Wisconsin are currently not enforcing the surrender of firearms, according to Gibart. He said he believes more legislation is also needed to get at the cause of domestic violence, suggesting a cross-check of lists between those who have concealed carry permits and those who are domestic violence offenders.