MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The argument from Republicans and gun-rights advocates that universal background checks and “red flag” laws will lead to the repeal of the Second Amendment right to bear arms is “frankly BS,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday.
Evers called Republican arguments against the bills “irrational” and cautioned them against not taking up the measures in a special session, a move the Democratic governor is keeping open as an option.
“Gaveling in and gaveling out, essentially just showing up and going home, is something that will affect people's re-election opportunities,” Evers said during an interview on WTMJ-AM.
Evers and Democrats last week introduced a universal background check bill in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. They also support a red flag law that would establish a process for a judge to remove guns from a person determined to be a threat to themselves or others.
Democrats in Wisconsin – where openly carrying a firearm is legal – and across the country are pushing those proposals on the heels of recent mass shootings. But Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature have shown no interest in taking up the bills, raising concerns about infringing on Second Amendment rights. They, much like Republicans across the country, say the focus should be on mental health.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.
Vos last week said the proposals were ineffective and “very unlikely” to be taken up by the Legislature. Fitzgerald has said he opposes universal background checks, saying it would violate the Second Amendment.
Evers said he hoped Republicans would come around so he wouldn't have to force the issue by calling a special session, but he's not ruling out that move.
“We have to take action,” Evers said.
Evers dismissed arguments from the NRA and other opponents that the laws would lead to the repeal of the Second Amendment.
“It's just frankly BS, excuse me,” Evers said. “We can't just sit back and say, `OK we're just going to wait for another mass murder.' It's too long, too late, and the time is now.”
He referenced a 2018 Marquette University Law School poll showing more than 80% of respondents support universal background checks.
“I support the Second Amendment just like everyone else who is advocating for this,” Evers said. “It's not about taking guns away, it's about doing some simple things that will save lives.”