To mourn the more than 450 men, women and children in the state of Wisconsin who die due to gun violence each year, the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort hosted a meeting at the Capitol Tuesday to find solutions to gun violence.
According to WAVE research, an average of 56 teenagers die of gunshot wounds, and gunfire kills more teenagers than all natural causes combined.
Additionally, children in the United States under the age of 15 are 12 times more likely to die from gunfire than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.
About 85 percent of likely voters believe gun violence is a serious problem in the state, and 84 percent of voters agree anyone who purchases a gun should be subject to a background check.
At the Capitol Wednesday, WAVE put 450 shirts on display in honor of the 450 Wisconsinites killed each year by gunfire.
“Any of these victims tell only a small part of the story,” said Jeri Bonavia, executive director of WAVE. “A huge economic burden is worn by all of us. What we don’t see are all of the people that have been injured, what we don’t see is the daily grief that ravished family or the fear that permeates families.”
Too many children in Wisconsin grow up with the fear they will be killed by guns in the future, Bonavia said, adding it is unfortunate that gun violence is preventable.
She added many Americans believe gun purchasers have to go through a series of screenings and a criminal background check to purchase guns. But currently in Wisconsin, nearly half of all guns are sold by unlicensed dealers, winding up in the hands of people regardless of a background check.
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said though he is not against gun ownership, this is a time where the proliferation of handguns mainly results in violence.
Executive Director Shannon Barry of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, said guns are typically the weapon of choice during domestic violence.
Of the 39 victims of reported domestic violence-related homicides in Wisconsin, 21 of them involved guns, Barry said.
Barry choked up giving an example of a woman she is working with whose husband would stroke a gun against her cheek whenever she disagreed with him.
Dangelo Caldwell, a member of Americorp Public Allies, said people need to take notice of the mass violence gun use can cause.
“I believe that some legislators need to wake up and realize this is a problem in our community and in our families and really in our daily lives,” Caldwell said.