‘This is a different moment:’ Sen. Tammy Baldwin urges Pres. Trump action on gun control

Senator Tammy Baldwin

MADISON — Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin urged President Donald Trump on Thursday to speak with Republican leaders in Congress to bring forward gun control measures, while slamming the National Rifle Association and saying high school students are forcing politicians to consider change in the wake of the Florida shooting.

Baldwin, speaking at a Wispolitics.com luncheon in Madison, said she sensed the reaction to last week’s shooting at Parkland High School that left 17 dead is different than other recent mass shootings.

“This is a different moment,” Baldwin said. “For years and years we’ve had tragedies like this and there’s been inaction … These teens, these children, are organizing in a way that I haven’t seen before and I think we’re just seeing the start of it. I don’t think they’re going to let go.”

Baldwin said she was encouraged that President Trump earlier Thursday endorsed a higher minimum age for buying certain rifles and tighter background checks for purchasers. She called on the president to speak with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, to bring the measures forward in the GOP-controlled Congress.

Some Republicans are voicing support for allowing teachers to be armed in the classroom as a way to defend against mass shootings. But Baldwin opposes that approach, saying that’s not what teachers were trained to do.

“I do not think arming our schools and arming our teachers makes any sense at all. I would strongly oppose that,” Baldwin said. Police are trained when responding to a shooting to look for a person with a weapon, and having innocent teachers armed “could have catastrophic, unintended consequences,” she said.

Baldwin, who said she is a gun owner, also blasted the NRA saying it is out of touch with many of its members who would support universal background checks.

“I think they are fronts for the gun manufacturers and too many politicians are beholden to the NRA and that’s wrong,” she said.

Baldwin is up for re-election this November. Two Republicans, state Sen. Leah Vukmir and Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson, are seeking the GOP nomination to run against her. Vukmir was in the audience for the luncheon Thursday.