“I Don’t Have the Answer” to Mass Shootings
So says Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald, who opposes expanding background checks.
The Republican leader of the state Senate said Tuesday he doesn’t know how states can curb mass shootings and downplayed the chances of two proposals from Wisconsin Democrats aimed at doing so.
Speaking with reporters after a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce event in Madison, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said lawmakers have been unable to come up with effective ways to prevent mass shootings.
“I don’t have the answer. I think if I had the answer, or any legislator had a clear answer to this issue, we would have already implemented it,” he said. “It’s frustrating, I think, because every time one of these incidents happen, we kind of wring our hands and say what can we do, what should we do, and we haven’t been able to come up with that yet.”
Fitzgerald’s comments come after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio earlier this month. Since those events, Democratic state lawmakers have pushed a so-called “red flag law” and expanded background checks in Wisconsin.
Several states enacted “red flag” laws, also known as extreme risk protective orders, in the wake of the deadly attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. Under such laws, law enforcement notified by family or friends can petition a judge to temporarily revoke someone’s right to buy, own or carry weapons.
Fitzgerald said Wisconsin already has laws on the books aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of certain individuals.
“For me, I don’t know if this is groundbreaking stuff,” he said, citing state laws approved in the mid-90s under former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Fitzgerald also said another proposal from Democratic lawmakers, expanding background checks to online sales and sales at gun shows, would violate Second Amendment rights.
He said that’s because buyers in those situations would have to register their weapons after the purchase, an act many in the gun rights community view as unconstitutional.
“If you’d have to go to the state or to the federal government and have to register that firearm, people are not going to go for that,” Fitzgerald said. “I know my constituency is not going to go for that.”
Speaking on a panel of legislative leaders earlier in the day, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, expressed similar sentiments about proposed changes violating the Second Amendment.
Fitzgerald said lawmakers should focus on expanding security for “soft targets,” like schools and the state Capitol Building.
The state rolled out a $100 million grant program last year aimed at helping schools increase security. Under the program, schools are able to apply for funding to do things like put locks on classrooms and install shatterproof glass near exterior doors.
The program does not pay for armed guards at schools.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders on Tuesday continued to argue in favor of their plans.
“We should do everything possible we can while respecting Second Amendment rights,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.
Hintz said he believes both the “red flag” proposal and expansion of background checks would do that.
GOP Senate Leader: ‘I Don’t Have The Answer’ On Preventing Mass Shootings was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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