Wisconsin Public Radio

“I Don’t Have the Answer” to Mass Shootings

So says Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald, who opposes expanding background checks.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Aug 14th, 2019 11:41 am
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Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald

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.

The senator said he was willing to review those laws and update them, if necessary.

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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3 thoughts on ““I Don’t Have the Answer” to Mass Shootings”

  1. blurondo says:

    “It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.” The New York Times, 12/5/15.

  2. TransitRider says:

    If the NRA really believes the 2nd Amendment is absolute, they would be arguing for restriction-free sales of machine guns and worse.

    The 2nd Amendment should not be allowed to become a suicide pact.

  3. Barb- West Bend says:

    “I don’t have the answer to mass shootings.” Republican Senator Scott Fitzgerald

    We have mass shootings because Senator Fitzgerald, and his cohorts, allow citizens to buy weapons of mass destruction. The blood of the innocent victims is smeared on the hands of our Republican leaders who have legalized these weapons of mass destruction.

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