Hundreds of Wisconsinites gathered to commemorate the National Day of Action in support of gun violence prevention at the Dane County Courthouse Wednesday.
Lawmakers, community leaders and anti-violence organizations all spoke out to demand a change, pointing to the need for more stringent gun control policies in the wake of the recent mass shooting that killed 49 people and injured 53 in Orlando, Florida.
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Advocating for gun control policies, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, said Wisconsin’s communities should engage in dialogue about gun control and work toward gun violence prevention in the state. He said the public could make a difference in the state through “grassroots activism” like rallies and protests.
“Let us have no more moments of silence and more moments of action,” Pocan said.
Adding onto the frustration of recent gun violence, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said “enough is enough.” He said stronger gun safety measures can work toward ending gun violence.
Local organizations present at the rally included Our Lives Magazine, Moms Demand Action, Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort and Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, among others.
Chris Krasovich, Wisconsin’s chapter of Moms Demand Action member, said many organizations similar to hers have advocated for the return of background checks for gun purchases and the “no fly, no buy” policy. She said people should freely exercise their Second Amendment rights, provided that those who should not have guns cannot access them freely.
“We see a lot of opportunity to move forward with common sense legislation that would make everyone safe,” Krasovich said.
Since the Orlando shooting, there have been pushes by Democrats across the nation for more gun control. Pocan said it is important for changes to be made on both the local and federal level.
Wisconsin Congressional Democrats, including Pocan, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, joined House Democrats in a staged sit-in June 22 to demand a vote on legislation that would prevent those on the terror watch list — or the no-fly list — from purchasing a firearm.
But Ian Martorana, spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in an email to The Badger Herald that the sit-in was merely a “publicity stunt.” Martorana said the legislation would have taken away citizens’ rights and had already been denied in the Senate.
“The House is focused on eliminating terrorists, not constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Martorana said. “And no stunts on the floor will change that.”
On the state level, Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, said she is looking to reintroduce her universal background check bill, which would require a background check for all firearm purchases. She said other Democrat legislators are also working toward legislation that would enforce further gun control.
“No more cowardice, no more simplistic rationalization like saying criminals will always find guns,” Berceau said. “The solution in our current political environment is us.”
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