Wisconsin Republicans do not plan to pass any gun control laws this legislative session despite Democratic efforts to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, according to a Republican Assembly leader.
Democrats will attempt to curb gun purchases in Wisconsin by drafting a new piece of legislation to strengthen background checks on future gun customers. However, Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said he is “absolutely against” stricter gun control and does not support their “anti-gun” agenda.
According to state law, standard background checks at gun stores and through licensed dealers restrict certain people from buying and having access to guns, such as criminals, youths and those with mental health issues.
However, many gun sales are done by individual transactions, including friend-to-friend or unlicensed dealer purchases, according to a report from the University of California-Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. The program recommended universal background checks that would ensure everyone who buys guns is qualified to do so, no matter where they buy them.
Suder said Wisconsin currently has adequate gun control laws, such as the concealed carry provision that he said already promotes safety of citizens. He said he believes further legislation is unnecessary.
Jeff Nass, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association’s state-charted association Wisconsin’s Firearm Owners, Range, Clubs and Educators Inc., said he sees the legislation as useless in preventing gun access to criminals.
“[Gun control legislation] never has [helped] in the past,” he said. “It won’t in the future.”
Even if the legislation passes, Nass said criminals would still acquire weapons by any means necessary, such as black market deals, to avoid background checks. Strengthening such checks would not help gun regulation but simply infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, he said.
Suder said he opposes universal background checks for gun owners because he does “not want every gun owner on a list.”
He said he also does not believe universal background checks will lead to less gun violence.
Suder, however, said he supports the mental health checks currently in place to prevent the mentally ill from having access to firearms.
In a joint statement from October, Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton, said they planned to re-introduce a bill this session to force domestic violence offenders to surrender their guns following a shooting in Brookfield.
“It deeply saddens me to see senseless acts of violence in Wisconsin,” Schraber said in the statement. “It is our duty to help protect the victims of domestic abuse and make sure that they are safe from violence.”
Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, said he thinks universal background checks would not further restrict guns purchases because criminal background checks are already in place to stop criminals from purchasing them.
Universal background checks simply take out any loopholes criminals could go through to buy guns, he added. According to Jauch, the necessary laws are in place to stop criminals from getting guns, but they are not being enforced properly.
Jauch added he would like to prevent weapons from getting in the hands of criminals, but does not believe the state Legislature has the power to do that and does not think any gun control measures will be passed in Wisconsin.
“It is up to Congress to pass anything regarding gun restriction,” he said.