Guns. Again. Our Response?
85% of state residents support background checks for all gun purchases. It’s time for action.
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.
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.