Gun Law Push Will Face Pushback

Recent mass shootings have opened the door for a gun regulation debate, but there doesn't appear to be much in common between the two sides.

In late October, “Saturday Night Live” spoofed the second presidential debate, in which Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney fielded questions from a town hall audience. One question: “I was wondering what either of you would do to keep dangerous assault weapons such as AK-47s off the street?”

Mock Mitt answered first: “Ah, nothing.” Bogus Barack backed him up: “I would also do nothing.”

The exchange, a condensed take on the candidates’ actual noncommittal responses to a similar question, drew derisive laughter from the SNL crowd. The lack of political will on the issue of gun violence had become, in some people’s eyes, a national joke.

And then a gunman with an assault rifle murdered 26 people, mostly little children, at an elementary school in Connecticut. This atrocity, on top of other recent carnage, including two mass shootings in Wisconsin, is seen as opening the door to new gun laws.

“Timing is everything in politics and I think the timing is ripe right now,” says state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison. He favors a state ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, an end to allowing concealed weapons in the state Capitol and other public buildings, and closing the “loophole” that exempts gun shows and private dealers from running background checks.

The man who killed three people and wounded four others at a Brookfield spa in October could not legally buy a gun because his wife, one of his victims, had a domestic abuse restraining order against him. But he avoided a background check by going to a private seller.

A group of Democratic lawmakers has pledged to introduce new state gun controls. State Rep. Leon Young, D-Milwaukee, supports their cause.

“We just can’t continue on the same path,” says Young, a former Milwaukee police officer. “On a weekly basis in my district, people are being shot, people are being killed.”

But the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups remain powerful players. The NRA Political Victory Fund, a political action committee, has doled out $939,000 on Wisconsin political campaigns since mid-2008, state records show. This includes independent expenditures of nearly $168,000 in support of Walker, on top of a $10,000 direct contribution. 

The NRA and Wisconsin Gun Owners Inc., a state-based group, also spent more than $200,000 on lobbying in 2011 alone.

Walker has declined to back new state bans on weapons or ammunition or tighter gun-sale rules. But he does want the state to consider arming school officials, with appropriate training — a stance similar to that of the NRA, which has called for armed guards at every school in America.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, a cosponsor of the state’s concealed carry law, enacted in 2011, doesn’t think the state’s guns laws will change — nor, in his view, should they.

“I think the type of people who introduce this legislation are the type of people who would vote for any anti-gun legislation over the last 10 years,” Grothman says. “They are just using this” — the Connecticut massacre — “as an excuse.”

Grothman argues that the nation’s murder rate has fallen over the past two decades, even though the number of guns has risen. He notes that Connecticut’s tougher gun laws didn’t keep the shooting from happening there, with legally acquired weapons. And he speculates that gun shows account for only “a tiny fraction” of illicit sales.

Jeri Bonavia of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), a nonprofit advocacy group, says such attitudes can’t withstand the rising tide of public support for modest and sensible new gun laws: “There is not going to be a tolerance for maintaining the status quo.”

That’s open to debate, but it does seem as though something has changed. When “Saturday Night Live” recently reran its show with the fake town hall debate, the exchange about gun control was edited out.

Bill Lueders is the Money and Politics Project director at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org). The project, a partnership of the Center and MapLight, is supported by the Open Society Institute.

The Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

vocal local 1 January 05, 2013 at 06:16 AM
The Colorado Shooter was also Jewish. How many others?
Stop the paranoia January 05, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Key words in the second amendment that you seem to forget their meaning: well regulated. Please quit being paranoid that your guns will be taken away. There's no logic behind that false premise.
vocal local 1 January 06, 2013 at 07:32 AM
"The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of National Guard militia members or units of each state and the territories." Wikipedia, Craig, where and why do you disagree? Today, the guard is the militia. It is well regulated by the head of the Patriot Act, Home Land Security. No longer does each state have a militia is the short of all the disagreement. It will be interesting to see what Biden comes up with. REMEMBER, the president can ban guns in the US with his power per Executive Order. Will he dare go that far? Aurora had another mass shooting Friday or Saturday. 3 dead, one got away and the shooter. Article I read was an early release. Writer didn't know if the gunman had been shot or killed himself.
arnie January 06, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Of the hundreds of gun laws on the books, if we had just one more, would that have prevented that tragic incident. I can take my nail gun, and from across the street, nail your ass to the fence. It is not the equiptment used, it is the user.
Larry Brewer January 06, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Let's learn from history. Any attack on the 2nd Amendment is an attack on our liberty. Our judicial system is far too lenient on dangerous individuals (criminals). Put them away, keep them there and let the rest of us enjoy responsible ownership, shooting and collecting of firearms. Don't make the majority of us victims by confiscating our means of protecting our wives, children and homes. The Second Amendment is not about hunting. The "left" will always establish the verbiage, we must resist their attempt to obfuscate this issue. "Live free or die" - never forget.
Larry Brewer January 06, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Carolo January 06, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Everyone beats their chest about their "Rights". Just as they want their RIGHT to bear arms, the rest of us want the RIGHT to be able to go to the mall, a football game or to a movie without being shot to ribbons with an assault weapon. Lobbyists are getting very good at running our country. Medical lobbyists, NRA, Grover Norquist, Big Bank and Big Oil Lobbyists, Carl Rowe, The Heritage Foundation, etc. Their interests are making money for themselves, not the welfare of those they lobby for or against. No Ones Right supersedes another persons Right. We have regulations to drive our vehicle. It must be deemed safe, licensed and registered. We have food inspectors to make sure what we eat is safe, that our homes contain no asbestos, that paints do not contain lead and our medications do not contain poisons. But yet assault weapons are easier to buy than a pack of cigarettes. Those now out to attack our country are called terrorists. The Second Amendment was when there were muzzle loaders and we needed to defend ourselves from the British. What's next......grenades, missiles and drones? We have an army that protects our country now and the British are not coming. Surely it can not be such a terrible thing to expect people who purchase guns to register them and have a short wait period? And stop with the assault weapons and big magazines. No one shoots a deer 100 times or a tin can 100 times.
Carolo January 06, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Somehow this reminds me of the Union workers. Our great State leaders decided that if they belonged to a Union, they had to pay dues. People did not like that so the Unions were broken. Now we have the NRA. Just what is the difference here? They must pay dues to belong. Only difference I see is one is supportive of the working man and the other is in support of a lobbyist.
Steve ® January 06, 2013 at 04:21 PM
You do not have a right to go to the mall but you do have a right to bear arms. And it shall not be infringed.
Steve ® January 06, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I like turtles.
Terry January 06, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Well, it may remind you of Union Workers, but it has no comparable bearing. If I do not want to pay NRA dues, I don't have to. I simply don't have to join. If I don't like what my dues are supporting for the NRA I can simply quit the NRA or again, never join it. As a public school teacher, I don't have a choice. I will be in a union and I will pay union dues. If I don't like what my union is spending its money on, I can just suck it. I have no say in it. The difference is in the more coercive nature of the unions. Some professions, some lines of work, it simply is not optional,. The NRA always is.
WPN1488 January 06, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Gun ownership is higher among Whites than among Blacks, higher among middle aged people than among young people, higher among married people than among unmarried people, higher among richer people than poor. Therefore, according to the fallacy of “more guns=more crime,” those most likely to be gun wielding American killers are well-to-do, White, middle aged married men and women. But the fact is, more guns do NOT result in more crime. Guns in the hands of criminals result in more crime. And in the US and elsewhere, the majority of those hands are Black. If Obama and his radical Progressives are determined to add to the nation’s bloated list of firearms legislation, common sense dictates Feinstein & Co. suspend efforts against the law abiding, independent, White, middle aged, married gun owner that have already been the dedicated target of the past 50 years of gun control legislation.
Larry Brewer January 06, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Read the Bill of Rights Carol. The Second Amendment is not about hunting. It's about liberty and securing YOUR freedom. Stop the BS about muzzle loaders and all that other non-sense. We have waiting periods and registrations for law abiding citizens. When will you get it through your head that a criminal doesn't care about waiting periods or registration or big oil or Carl Rove (where did you come up with this?) In case of a terrorist attack, you bet I'd want a RPG or whatever it took to fight on their level of power. But if it were up to you we'd have toothpicks and rubberbands.
Carolo January 06, 2013 at 07:08 PM
More older, white men are deer and rabbit hunters, too. But I would have to say more black kids that live in Detroit and Chicago are armed over white, rich young people. But you are quoting stats for guns. Not assault weapons.
Lyle Ruble January 06, 2013 at 08:49 PM
@WPN1488...If I follow your logic, then there must be some kind of correlation between male white's gun ownership and the fact that it has been predominately white males who have committed the vast majority of these random acts of mass killings. I can think of only four, incidents of where persons of color where the perpetrators of mass shootings; the Hmong man in Wisconsin's Northwest Woods, the D.S. Sniper, the shooter at Virginia Tech and the recent shootings in Brookfield. To my knowledge all the other mass killings where committed by white male perpetrators. Now why do you think that is? The vast majority of shootings can be traced to commission of one on one crime or crimes of passion. These occur predominately in high crime areas, such as the inner cities. For those who aren't residents of these areas, crime can mostly be avoided by avoiding those areas. The vast majority of crime is associated with people of color, but it is usually an act for gain, whether armed robbery or "turf" wars. What can be learned from this; is that white folks are at more risk from other white folks, whether domestic partners, white supremacists, or the mentally ill white male.
Bren January 06, 2013 at 10:00 PM
The Second Amendment is not being attacked. Whoever is telling you that is lying. What is happening, finally, is a review of the entire Amendment, not just a sentence fragment, and a robust, healthy discussion of what the 2nd Amendment actually means. The Bill of Rights is intended to protect citizens and it will continue to do so as long as our form of government remains.
Bren January 06, 2013 at 10:05 PM
carolo I absolutely agree. The well funded special interest groups and their strategists have done an excellent job of obfuscating the issue and stimulating the amygdalae of the easily-influenced for many years. As a result, these confused people cling frantically for life and freedom they believe, to a sentence fragment as if it was a plank of wood in a storm-tossed sea without really understanding the true intent of the 2nd Amendment (which doesn't ban them from owning guns). It's sad.
Larry Brewer January 06, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Bren you are living talking points. The second amendment is being attacked and like a blind sheep you are following. What's sad is your inability to see what this administration is working at; taking your God given rights away. Some of us do not want to wake up one morning and see our liberty and freedoms gone. You, on the other hand will never wake up - you're perpetually sleeping. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
WPN1488 January 07, 2013 at 07:53 PM
@Lyle Ruble, A privileged-white guy commits a mass shooting: obviously, the privileged-white guy is responsible for the deed. A black guy shoots three people on a given weekend: obviously, privileged-white oppression is responsible for his terrible deed. See, perfectly logical consistency in the mind of Liberal Lyle; it's always the fault of whites. This is the stuff advanced liberal arts degrees are made of.
Young Conservative January 07, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Lyle Ruble is the epitome of what defines a self loathing liberal Jew.
Born Free January 07, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Was Hitler a contemporary liberal? Absolutely! The following site contains various topics, documents and quotes about Hitlers leftist liberal activism. Contemporary liberal socialists mirror Hitler and the Nazi parties disposition to a 'T' to the point that todays Democrat party can be labeled Neo Nazi's without hesitation. A socialist is a socialist yesterday today and tomorrow. They all share the same dysfunctional psychosis' found in narcissism/elitism. There is no reason to not believe that all guns will be taken from U.S. citizens. http://constitutionalistnc.tripod.com/hitler-leftist/id14.html
Born Free January 07, 2013 at 10:58 PM
At the time the Constitution was written the Guttenburg printing press (single page hand set type setting) was state of the art. If you believe the The U.S. Constitution Amendments were only good for the times they were printed during, then by all means limit the news media today to the speed of the old Guttenburg press era. But why stop there? Rip up The Declaration Of Independence and strip out the all the Amendments up to the 12th because by 1803 (12 amendment) the Guttenburg press was becoming antiquated too. You liberals are true to form. There's just nothing motivating you to learn or grow thus you let government policies you've created give you and tell you all they think you should be happy with and no more. You liberals are THE USEFULL IDIOTS every socialist dictator has called you. Doesn't that insult you at all?
Born Free January 07, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Hitler and most of his staff and Generals were all practicing satan worshipers and socialists. Look at the grand results of atheism around the world. Pretty deadly, pretty ugly.
Born Free January 07, 2013 at 11:15 PM
You are every socialists dream, a USEFUL IDIOT. There's no reason to be paranoid when your have control of your gun.
Born Free January 07, 2013 at 11:23 PM
They'll come for our nail guns too, our 22 cal Ramset fastener guns and lawn fertilizer.
FreeThought Troy January 08, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Funny, but when I attempted to pull up this site, my filter blocked it as a Hate site. Just saying. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler The scholars disagree on the personal, private, religious views of Hitler. One thing is common knowledge is the Holocaust was based on Christian principles – not Atheist. It is easy to peg all atrocities to Atheism especially in the -40s as Communism was Atheist. This; however, is not the case. The Nazis were Christian. The Church presided over the Inquisition and guaranteed forgiveness and automatic salvation for every Muslim killed in the Crusades. Christianity has had its fair share of atrocities. Presently, it’s not Atheists preaching hatred and bigotry. It’s Christians in this country. The President is not Atheist. He is Christian. His father was Atheist. He is not. He is Christian.
FreeThought Troy January 08, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Also, Barack Obama is NOT Socialist-Communist or any other –ist he is accused of. That is a flat out lie and misconception perpetrated by the Radical Right that has taken over the main stream Conservative Party. Any idea that is not Anti-Gov. Supply Side Economic must be Socialist. This is an untruth. It is a lie. The President is actually very centrist- as evidenced by the constant criticism he has gotten from his left about single payer, Guantanamo & drone strikes/executive power (just to name a few). Let us stop perpetrating the fear-based lies. We have too many other important issues to deal with than this nonsense.
B. Guenther January 08, 2013 at 03:44 PM
Good morning Lyle, I see you are back on your "it's the white man's problem" kick again. How do you sleep at night knowing that you are the root of all evil? Or, is it just someone who is a white male that is not you? The vast majority of drive-by's and gang shootings are committed by inner city black males. What are you doing about that? Actually, not a thing. And why? Oh, as a liberal, you'll find some reason why it is the white man's fault. Again how, as a guilt laden white male, do you sleep at night?
Steve ® January 08, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Awwe it's cute what the media feeds you nom nom nom
FreeThought Troy January 08, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Not to worry all you gun lovers out there. Congress is already losing their spines over anything. Good to see the Modern American Lobby again flex its muscle. http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/chances-of-gun-control-dim-in-washington


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