Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers speaks at a news conference at Milwaukee City Hall Monday before signing an executive order calling a special session on gun laws.

Gov. Tony Evers has called for the Legislature to vote on gun control legislation — a move the Democratic governor said should force a discussion on the matter by Republicans, who control the Assembly and Senate and have been reluctant to hold such a vote.

Evers made the announcement at a Monday press event in Milwaukee, accompanied by supporters, Democratic legislators and survivors of people who died from gun violence.

“I don’t want any political games, I don’t want any procedural shenanigans with the rules, no circumventing of the democratic process, no last-minute amendments, no nonsense,” Evers said, before signing an executive order calling for the Nov. 7 session. “I want Republicans in the Legislature to work with Democrats to send these bills to my desk.”

The bills would require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in Wisconsin and implement so-called red-flag laws, under which people perceived to be threats must surrender their firearms.

Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes cited a recent Marquette University Law School poll that found 80% of Wisconsinites support expanded background checks — including nearly 70% of gun owners — and said Assembly and Senate leaders need to act.

“No one deserves to die by a bullet because of the ignorance of their politicians,” Barnes said.

On Monday, Evers, who in September said he would call for a special session if Republicans didn’t act on gun measures themselves, said he’s hopeful lawmakers pass what he called “common-sense” legislation.

Leaders in the Assembly and Senate, however, do not appear interested in Evers’ legislation, according to statements released Monday from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

“A special session call will not change where my Assembly Republican colleagues and I stand on protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of Wisconsin citizens,” Vos said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly said, we will not entertain proposals that infringe on our constitutional rights. Today’s call is another indication that Governor Evers stands ready to confiscate guns in our state.”

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Fitzgerald in a statement referred to Evers’ comment in September that he would “consider” a gun buy-back program, when asked by reporters at a press conference. Evers later walked back that comment, saying he is focusing on the two measures presented Monday.

“Liberals across the country are upping their rhetoric in support of taking guns from law-abiding citizens,” Fitzgerald said in the statement. “After the governor opened the door to a long-term plan of gun confiscation at his press conference last month, it’s easy to see how today’s action could just be the first attack on the Second Amendment. The Senate will not be part of a drawn-out strategy to infringe on constitutional rights.”

Evers acknowledged that Republican leadership has been “reluctant” to take up gun control legislation, but he added that a special session should force all lawmakers to weigh in on the matter.

“We need an up or down vote,” Evers said. “At the end of the day, how many times can you go against 80% of the people of the state of Wisconsin in developing policy and essentially tell them to go to hell and at the same time expect to be re-elected? It doesn’t make sense to me.”

In a special session, the governor calls the Legislature into session and designates what bills lawmakers should work on. After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in 2018, former Republican Gov. Scott Walker made a similar move to prompt the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a $100 million school safety package.

The impact of a special session may be limited, as lawmakers may have to meet but do not have to pass any legislation.

Wisconsin does not require private sellers to conduct a background check when transferring a firearm. Under the bill, most gun sales would go through a licensed gun dealer, which currently must contact the state Department of Justice to conduct a background check to sell a handgun, and the FBI to sell a long gun.

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(11) comments


Red flag laws, all it takes is anyone to complain, there is no procedure, no checking, just take the guns,


You should have been just as upset about the Patriot act. All you are is a blowhard with phony outrage. The time to complain about possible loss of your "rights" was when that was implemented.


That's why there needs to be an honest discussion without far right and left views on the issue and concessions will have to be made on both sides but it comes down to being a true patriot and doing what's best for the country as a whole and not seeing things through partisan eyes. If we don't all work together we're going to end up with banana laws about maximum clip sizes of one bullet or slowing firing rates. That would technically still be upholding the 2nd amendment but make gun ownership boring and more like it was when the constitution was written, so you hardline 2nd amendment people would get to keep your guns but they'd be no fun anymore.


Don't you just love how politicians both R and D throw around poll numbers? So, according to Tony, 80% of Wisconsinites support universal background checks and red flag laws and 70% of gun owners support this as well. According to Wikipedia, Wisconsin has roughly 5.4 million people. So,,,, what poll came up with 4,352,800 people in favor of these ideas and how come I wasn't polled? Also, how did they come up with all the gun owners in Wisconsin to poll? Do they really think everyone asked answered truthfully ? How about being honest and say " according to our poll of 1000 people" ? Not going anywhere in either house imho. How do you enforce a private sale if neither party cares about a background check? Impossible to track if no crime is committed with said firearm.


Do you even understand the nature of polling? A representative sample is taken and the estimated result is extrapolated with a stated margin of error. It's not complicated.


The news media use the polls to promote their agenda, crooked polls, how did they work in the last presidential election ?


Cassandra, yes I do understand polling. If the governor would have said " 1000 Wisconsinites were polled and 80% were in favor", do you not agree that would have been giving a more accurate statement ? Of course, that wouldn't sound nearly as dramatic as 80% of all Wisconsinites now would it? That's why people shouldn't put too much stock in any poll. Right Hillary?


Why is it the people won't listen or try to meet people at a level of understanding. The 2nd amendment is intact. People's right to own guns is there and isn't going away. Putting restrictions on the type of guns or limiting the round in a clip isn't against the second amendment. Listen to what is being proposed at this time. Negotiate on that and that only. Plus, let's start using terminology that isn't inciting.


How do you do that when Republicans insist Hillary and the Democrats are going to take your guns away?


Hey Bozo, remember what Beto said, ? YES, I’m going to take your guns! DemoRats are saying it


Feehan didn't say that I did. And the next time you start calling people names I'll start reporting your posts. You just might have to resort to using one of your other identities. Beto is not the Democrtaic party. He's one candidate. And not one of them that I know of has said they will take everyone's guns away. You can't prove that and you know it won't happen anyway. So grow up little boy and start being honest and calling everyone childish names.

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