It wasn’t his main selling point on why he deserved to be elected, but when then-candidate Tony Evers, a Democrat, ran for governor of Wisconsin in 2018 (and won), reasonable gun reform was one of the issues he discussed.
Last fall, Evers sought to push the issue to the forefront, calling for a special session of the legislature to pass two gun laws — one ensuring background checks for every gun sale, and another that would propose a “red flag” law, allowing police to remove guns, with a court order, from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or to others.
The Republican-led legislature, however, lasted for approximately 30 seconds — a gavel in, and a vote to close it right away, without any gun provisions considered.
On Wednesday afternoon, Evers renewed his calls for consideration of gun reform bills.
“All I want is a discussion. We had [two] really common-sense solutions on the table that they wouldn’t even talk about. And that’s the frustration I have about politics these days,” Evers said, per reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Five people have been killed in a mass shooting at Molson Coors brewing facility in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
— TIME (@TIME) February 27, 2020
Republican leadership responded to that by saying gun laws were fine just the way they are now.
“We’re going to have that discussion about the Second Amendment forever. A lot of the provisions that are in place already, people are satisfied with,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said.
Those comments from Fitzgerald came just hours before a 51-year-old gunman, an apparently disgruntled former employee of Molson-Coors, attacked workers inside the building with a gun where he used to work. At least 5 individuals were killed by the gunman, who also took his own life, according to the most up-to-date reports.
Fitzgerald responded to the shooting by saying that his “heart [went] out to the victims and their families.”
But his promise seems pretty hallow, considering his consistent pattern of not doing a thing about gun violence.
Gun laws were loosened significantly at the start of the previous decade in Wisconsin, with a promise from former Gov. Scott Walker that doing so would make the state “safer for all responsible, law-abiding citizens.”
What happened five years later? The violent crime rate in Wisconsin jumped by 22 percent, and the murder rate skyrocketed by 72 percent.
Loose gun laws haven’t made the state safe, so maybe it’s time for a new approach. With Republican lawmakers like Fitgerald in Wisconsin — and other conservative counterparts in states beyond, who still have a stranglehold on state legislatures across the nation — that new approach, where common-sense gun legislation is even considered, is not likely to happen anytime soon.