State Rep. Chris Taylor
Op-Ed

Guns. Again. Our Response?

85% of state residents support background checks for all gun purchases. It’s time for action.

By - Jun 19th, 2016 11:38 am
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The police were able to prevent a likely shootout on the near North Side where one criminal was armed with several guns and tons of ammunition supplied by his brother, who had a CCW permit. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Police Department.

The police were able to prevent a likely shootout on the near North Side where one criminal was armed with several guns and tons of ammunition supplied by his brother, who had a CCW permit. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Police Department.

I remember where I was when I heard about Sandy Hook, one of the most horrifying occurrences in this country in my lifetime. And I remember the panic I felt thinking of my son, Sam, who was six and sitting in his first grade classroom. And I remember lingering at his school for days afterwards when I would drop him off, barely able to let him go. I realized that the issue of guns would be one I would spend the rest of my life working on.

When pretty much anyone can get a military-style assault weapon with ease, including home grown terrorists and individuals with an agenda of hate so severe they kill, the horror of gun violence doesn’t end, even as the public becomes more and more desperate that it does.

And Wisconsinites are desperate that gun violence end and common sense measures be adopted. In a January Marquette poll, 85.3% of Wisconsinites indicated they support universal background checks for gun purchases, with strong support in every corner of our state. And 65% of Wisconsinites want to keep concealed guns off school grounds.

Yet in Wisconsin, Republican legislators wouldn’t even allow a vote on my resolution to honor the children and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Instead, in the five years they have been in charge, Republicans have repealed our 48 hour waiting period for handgun purchases, legalized concealed guns, which research from Stanford University shows has increased instances of violent crime, and tried but thankfully failed to allow more guns in our elementary schools and college classes. They will try again next session.

Republican policy makers insist that guns make us safer. If that were the case, the U.S., with the most civilian gun ownership in the world, would be the safest country among industrialized nations. Instead, we are the most deadly by far. And a gun owner has a far bigger risk that their gun will accidentally kill someone they love than ever save a life. As Stanford gun researcher John Donohue has stated, “A loaded, unsecured gun in the home is like an insurance policy that fails to deliver at least 95% of the time you need it. . .”

But Democrats in the state legislature have to get more courage too. Perhaps if we talked more about creating safe communities and keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals through waiting periods, comprehensive background checks and no buy fly laws, we might start winning elections.

On the day that U.S. Senator Chris Murphy concluded his 15 hour filibuster, I began preparing a resolution for the victims in Orlando, almost exclusively LGBTQ members and people of color who have been killed, and tortured and abused throughout a shameful history of discrimination which continues to present day. Orlando was a hate crime that turned into a hate massacre because of the guns used. Next session, will Assembly Republicans block this resolution from even being considered? What about a reinstatement of the 48 hour waiting period for handgun purchases? Or universal background checks?

The question to ask now, is what are our elected officials going to do to curb this epidemic of gun violence? Praying for the devastated families isn’t enough. It’s not enough when gun violence claims 88 lives every day in our country. It’s not enough when 52 women each month are gunned down by their intimate partners. It’s not enough when 7 children lose their lives daily. It’s not enough when there has been 186 school shootings on school campuses since Sandy Hook.

Enough talk. It’s time for action.

Chris Taylor, D-Madison, represents District 76 in the Wisconsin Assembly.

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9 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Guns. Again. Our Response?”

  1. Donald George MacDonald says:

    In times not many decades ago, before the proliferation of handguns, two up close, hardened, very angry men were forced to use only their fists to hopefully pummel their foe to submission, to hopefully beat their foe to unconsciousness, but seldom to death.

    The deterrence of this up close violence was a real, unforgotten fear of suddenly being awakened, on the ground, beaten down and out himself, awakened suddenly by the humiliation of his own pain, by the tears of his own flowing blood and by only helplessly cowering at the sight of his towering, gloating victor dancing above and around him like Ali waiting for more.

    Looking back, maybe these old school ways of solving disputes were the best deterrence of this violence, when both men feared their own painful consequences of manly humiliation.

    Our interpersonal handgun violence that frightened, childish cowards inflict on their victims is far too distant and easy and safe and impersonal.

    Handguns allow frightened, childish cowards the luxury of killing another human being from a safe distance with little risk of being pummeled to death in return.

    Gun violence is a safe way for frightened, childish cowards to try to get what he wants at the expense of others.

    The frightened, childish coward with gun in hand only pretends to be a real man.

    The frightened, childish coward somehow tries to convince himself and others that he somehow, suddenly deserves respect as a real man when, in truth, he is only a frightened, childish coward.

  2. Donald George MacDonald says:

    Repeat after me:
    “I will remain idealistic
    and
    I will remain concerned
    and
    I will remain kind
    and
    I will remain respectful
    and
    I will remain caring
    and
    I will remain compassionate
    and
    I will remain tenacious
    and
    I will remain loving
    and
    I will remain after I am dead and gone.”

  3. Donald George MacDonald says:

    Almost every man-child wants to be a tough guy.
    That’s why the story of a 90 pound weakling
    sand kicked in his face
    building up hard
    coming back with more
    seems so relevant and appealing
    in our tragic and inglorious world.

  4. Donald George MacDonald says:

    Crime is done.
    Vicious cycle ensues.
    Lost dreams of youth feel like one heavy anvil.
    Lost dreams press down on the core.
    Lost dreams hammer down.
    Lost dreams smolder hard.

  5. Donald George MacDonald says:

    I wish we could completely communicate like coneheads touching or like Vulcans mind-melding. This would be an opposite, parallel universe compared to how we miscommunicate now.

  6. Donald George MacDonald says:

    EXTREMISM NOW!

    May there be
    peace on earth
    and goodwill
    toward all people.

    ***

    I am proud to be an “extremist.”

    In truth, I am so very far “left,“

    I make even leftists look as if “right.”

    I believe that extremist solutions of our grave individual and social problems are needed in our struggling world gone awry.

    I believe we must envision and search for and discover and describe and motivate others to find positively extremist solutions of our many individual and social problems.

    ***

    Many people presently forsake the idealism of individual nonviolence in a world with much interpersonal violence and international militarism.

    Many people still choose to glamorize our individual acts of violence and our crimes with wars.

    Consider, instead, positively extremist solutions of our individual acts of violence and our crimes with wars.

    Consider the positive extremism of individual nonviolence when we conscientiously refuse to harm other persons and violence becomes unconscionable.

    Consider the positive extremism of international nonviolence when our finest sons and daughters conscientiously refuse to enter the military and contribute to our crimes with wars.

    Consider how our positive extremism of nonviolent intentions cause our new, empathetic, compassionate ways of thinking and feeling and believing and communicating and behaving to eventually spread to others.

    Consider when respect and love for other world citizens increases until our crimes with wars become unconscionable and wars are finally seen as just wasteful and sacrilegious and therefore, eventually become obsolete.

    ***

    May there be
    peace on earth
    and goodwill
    toward all people.

    EXTREMISM NOW!

  7. Donald George MacDonald says:

    I have been
    a good person
    with no faith.
    For who really knows
    what exists in the universe?

    But I have also been trying to
    live my life
    harming no more
    feeling kindness more
    writing good words more
    and showing respect more
    just in case
    but even if not.

    It is not enough to worship with faith and
    feel worthy of saving and
    show hate with charm and
    praise guns and blows and
    spread crimes with wars.

    This I can be sure of.

  8. T.Thompsom Bosworth says:

    Your photo caption reads “one criminal was armed with several guns and tons of ammunition supplied by his brother, who had a CCW permit.”

    That was already a felony, Rep. Taylor. In fact, turning over each gun, even momentarily, to a felon is a separate felony. Each cartridge is a separate felony, both for the supplier and the recipient.

    These are already felonies: How would these numerous felonies have been stopped by a “universal” background check? Only the law abiding will go through them.

    “research from Stanford University shows has increased instances of violent crime”

    Please show the link to the study and critiques of it. Why? Because since 1993 the number of guns in circulation has gone up by about 50%, at the same time the gun homicide rate has fallen by 49%.

    Since Florida became the first state in recent times to go to ‘shall issue’ carry permit laws (in response to the horrific violence committed by Mariel Boat Lift criminals), dozens of states have followed suite. What then happened? Gun violence dropped by half. Concealed carry was not necessarily the cause of that drop, but is certainly correlated.

    The Director of the FBI has testified that concealed carry is not a crime problem. Here: http://concealednation.org/2015/03/video-fbi-director-testifies-concealed-carriers-are-not-a-problem/

    Think a bit about “universal” background checks: Who would undergo them? Would criminals? Of course not. Only the law abiding would obey the law. Since numerous studies show criminals get their guns from friends, family, and acquaintances, there would be no reduction in guns in criminal hands with “universal” background checks.

    The US Intentional Homicide rate, according to the UN, ranks 108th of 212 countries. That is about as solidly middle of the road as is possible to get. Professional gun banners don’t like to reveal that datum, preferring to cherry pick their data to make the US rate look as bad as possible. I don’t blame people of good will for falling for that, but it does suggest to me that too many people are too trusting of advocates and their data claims.

    Source, which draws on UN data. Clicking on the “RATE” column will reorder the countries by rate, rather than alphabetically by country.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    Prohibiting people on the No Fly list from buying guns: Virtually all are already banned from buying guns because they are neither US citizens nor permanent residents ie green card holders. “How many Americans are on the no-fly list? In his House testimony, Piehota said “[a]pproximately 0.8 percent of the overall TSDB population,” which would be about 6,400 U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents.”

    There are several lists referred to popularly as No Fly, but you can access some data from FactCheck.org: http://www.factcheck.org/2015/12/rubio-on-terrorist-watchlist/

    The Constitutional problem with banning US citizens and green card holders from buying guns is that you would be abridging one of many enumerated rights without any due process. That may seem like a small thing in light of our hope to reduce mass murder, but the Constitution is no small thing. Once we allow government to act without due process in one area, we have broken the wall in all others. There isn’t even any stated process for getting put on the lists, nor for getting off them. How many other enumerated rights shall we allow government to ignore? That is a problem which advocates generally are uncomfortable addressing in a thoughtful manner.

  9. David Krueger says:

    Well done Mr. Bosworth.

    I believe that “something” could be done to improve the situation. Unfortunately, after every shooting, well meaning politicians propose legislation that often wouldn’t have stopped the most recent shooting:

    Orlando Shooting
    * The Orlando shooter worked as an armed security guard.
    * The FBI did not have shooter on the FBI’s terror watch list database at the time of the attack (his name had been removed in 2014).

    San Bernardino
    * A former neighbor, Enrique Marquez, bought the two assault rifles and provided them to the shooters.
    * Shooters bought some of their guns in California (one of the stronger gun control states).

    Sandy Hook
    * Shooter used his mother’s guns to kill her and 26 others.

    In my opinion, we should study this issue (change government to allow the issue to be funded/studied) and propose legislation that would make a serious dent (likely spying on US Citizens, infiltrating terrorist groups, etc). As stated by Mr. Bosworth, the photo caption individual had committed a felony as part of the process of obtaining the guns – so gun laws don’t stop killings.

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