MILWAUKEE (WISN) — There are growing calls for Wisconsin lawmakers to enact “red flag” laws days after the two latest mass shootings in America.
President Donald Trump announced his support for the move Monday morning.
“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety,” he said, “Do not have access to firearms. That is why I have called for red flag laws.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to take action on bills that would limit access to guns, which he said would make the state safer following a pair of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 people dead.
“That’s something we have to consider,” he said. “We’re looking at that and looking at what other states have done in this area.”
Evers, who said he was considering ordering a special session of the Legislature, called for lawmakers to pass a universal background check bill and a so-called red flag law that would make it easier to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
“We will look at everything we can do to make sure the people of Wisconsin are safe,” Evers said. “Let’s make it happen, let’s make it happen.”
There are 17 other states that have red flag laws already on the books.
Evers said he wants lawmakers to take action but that he’s not optimistic given Republicans’ lack of support for the ideas in the past.
But who would it target and how would it work?
“If it’s just a removal of the weapons, I don’t think we’re solving the problem,” West Milwaukee Police Chief Dennis Nasci said. “I think we have to look at the problem, which is probably a mental health crisis.”
He said he’s in favor of red flag laws to give law enforcers more tools to get guns out of the hands of those who might pose a threat to the public.
Nasci said providing mental health treatment is just as important.
“A lot of times we have this discussion and we’re just talking about the guns. And, it’s really not about the guns,” he said. “It’s about the individual in crisis. And we’re trying to protect them as well as everybody else.”
“This would allow for an order from a judge that would allow police or a family member to come forward to get that order,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul told WISN 12 News. “And have the person temporarily disarmed. So that the threat can be addressed. And hopefully we can save lives.”
But the president of gun rights group Wisconsin Carry disagreed.
“This is just about a gun grab. None of these red flag laws talk about — should we take away the person’s car, their knives, there are so many other weapon people can use,” Nik Clark said. “This is solely focused on guns because this is a political issue for people like Josh Kaul.”
A judge would determine whether a person’s threatening action equated to removing guns from their home.
Evers called for Democrats and Republicans to come together to address racism and gun violence.
“We can’t pretend this is something that only happens in Texas or other places in the country,” Evers said, noting that he was speaking on the anniversary of the 2012 attack in which a white supremacist killed six worshipers at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek.
On Saturday, in the Texas border city of El Paso, a shooter opened fire at a Walmart, killing 22 people and wounding more than two dozen others.
Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, another gunman killed nine people and wounded at least 27 others.
Trump, in comments from the White House on Monday, called for bipartisan cooperation to respond to an epidemic of gun violence.
He tweeted support for “strong background checks,” but he didn’t mention it in remarks later Monday. He has reneged on previous promises after mass attacks.
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin joined with other Democrats in calling for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow the Senate to vote on a bill the House passed that would require federal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, including those sold online or at gun shows.
“The American people overwhelmingly support” expanding federal background checks on all gun sales, Baldwin tweeted. She called for an immediate vote “so we can start saving lives.”
Republican Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson issued a statement in which he didn’t mention expanding background checks, but he did signal support for a “red flag” law, which would allow family members to petition authorities to restrict a mentally ill person’s access to firearms.
Trump also called for laws to both make it easier to commit those with mental illness and to keep them from having guns.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee, accused Trump of being “complicit” in the El Paso shooting, which authorities are investigating as a possible hate crime because of a racist, anti-immigrant screed that the suspected gunman may have posted online shortly beforehand.
“The El Paso shooting was an act of domestic terrorism by a white supremacist,” Moore tweeted on Sunday. “Trump has fanned the flames of white supremacists, emboldening them and exacerbating our gun violence epidemic.”
Johnson praised Trump for condemning “violent extremism.”
“But the long term solution lies in renewed faith, strengthened families, and less virtual socialization and more genuine human to human interaction in real communities,” Johnson said.