Mayor Paul Soglin held a press conference Tuesday to express his support for the victims of the Parkland school shooting and to discuss his thoughts on gun regulations.
The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 — which left 17 people dead — is different than past shootings because the survivors of the shooting are taking control of the conversation instead of letting the incident fade from the nation’s “collective memory,” Soglin said.
“We are going to be followers,” Soglin said. “They are going to lead this discussion. And they are going to test our values as a state and as a nation.”
The United States Conference of Mayors agreed to impose stricter gun laws, Soglin said.
But Soglin said Madison is preempted by the State Legislature, which took away the city’s power and authority to implement gun laws of its own.
“Even though we may have some ideas and solutions on how to address this great public health problem, we are powerless,” Soglin said.
When the State Legislature passed its concealed carry law in 2011, Soglin said Madison was given some leeway in deciding which places can permit concealed weapons.
In 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Madison’s ordinance forbidding weapons on city buses. When Soglin went to the State Legislature asking them to let the city decide what weapons can and can’t be brought onto buses, he said the legislators laughed in his face.
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Soglin said if he were elected governor, he would give power back to municipalities in the state to decide gun laws on their own, like when Madison banned all handgun sales in 1975.
“What I think a governor ought to do is first strengthen the laws on a statewide basis and secondly give local authorities the independence to enact tougher laws if they wish,” Soglin said.
Since concealed carry was enacted, more illegal guns have been found circulating in the state, which puts Madisonians at greater risk of death and injury, Soglin said.
Soglin said he looks forward to working with Madison high schoolers and is hopeful about the walk out, planned for March 14, in high schools across the nation in protest of political inaction on stronger gun laws.
“This may be the time when the last shooting doesn’t fade, but is kept in the forefront,” Soglin said.