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Rep. Jon Richards frustrated with progress of gun control bill

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MADISON (WITI) -- Are universal background checks on the back burner in Madison? A Milwaukee Democrat is criticizing Republicans for allowing his gun control bill to "languish" without getting a hearing. Gov. Scott Walker says the issue is a distraction.

Rep. Jon Richards (D - Milwaukee) is pushing for the universal background checks bill -- saying the majority of the public supports it. The bill would require criminal background checks for all firearms transactions.

Background checks are already required for federally licensed dealers, but there are loopholes when buying online, in flea markets and at gun shows.

Richards' bill would close the loopholes, and he says it would make it harder for felons and domestic abusers to get their hands on guns.

Richards is also running for Attorney General. His opponent in the race says constitutional rights shouldn't be decided by polls.

Perhaps the key to getting anything done in Madison is Gov. Walker's support -- and gun control is not on his agenda.

In 2012, Wisconsin was rocked by two mass shootings in two months. First, at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, and then at the Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield.

One of the victims in the Azana shooting was Zina Daniel. Daniel's brother, a card-carrying member of the NRA became an unlikely and outspoken advocate of background checks.

A background check on the gunman, Radcliffe Haughton was not performed because Haughton purchased his firearm online.

"Had there been a background check done, there's a good possibility Zina would still be with us today," Daniel said.

Attempts to change gun laws failed at the federal level, but the fight continues in state legislatures around the country and in Madison.

The most recent Marquette University Law School poll shows that nearly three out of every four people in Wisconsin support universal background checks.

"I think the people of Wisconsin are asking for this. It's very clear that all around Wisconsin -- no matter where you go in the state -- we want to make sure we're safe and we want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals," Richards said.

Richards authored a bill almost a year ago -- but it has yet to get a hearing on the Republican-controlled Criminal Justice Committee.

"I think it's important for us to do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals," Richards said.

"My agenda has been exclusively focused on things like property tax relief, worker training bills. We're going to have some other announcements about economic development issues," Gov. Walker said.

Gov. Walker says gun control is a distraction from his goal of improving the state's economy.

"There's a tendency with any legislative body to get off on a variety of different issues out there.  I want to keep them focused -- as we did last fall --  on worker training, on tax relief, on economic incentives, on things that can put more people to work in the state of Wisconsin," Gov. Walker said.

Gov. Walker and several Republicans called for improving mental health services in the wake of the 2012 shootings.

Seven bipartisan proposals aimed at improving the effectiveness of Wisconsin's mental health system just passed the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee last week.


  • 2econd

    “I think the people of Wisconsin are asking for this. It’s very clear that all around Wisconsin — no matter where you go in the state — we want to make sure we’re safe and we want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Richards said.

    so putting more laws on the books is going to do it . there are tons of laws on the books already, unfortunatly the criminal doesnt follow the laws. so here we go AGAIN w/ another douchbag liberal that is trying to pass some more feel good laws. Mabye Mr. Richards should delve into the reasons that judges are throwing out sentences for criminals that amount to a slap on the hand. Oh by the way, the people of Wisconsin are not asking for this, its been proving itself out to be the tyrannical government officials that push for more “control” and I beleive that both sides, liberal or right are catching onto the dirty political games.

  • G Gruess

    Another Liberal with suspect polls that support his position and will do anything to infringe the rights of the law-abiding….and his laws won’t change as single thing. Make sure to vote AGAINST this man.

    • Eli

      When Rebuplicans use polls to claim the public demands we make you show your papers to use your voting rights, that’s ok. But if the dems ask the you to show that you aren’t too murderously insane to buy a gun, THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! Hypocrite much?

  • Spencer60000

    “…but there are loopholes when buying online, in flea markets and at gun shows.”

    Outright lie.

    The law is simple, if you buy from a licensed dealer ANYWHERE or ANYHOW, you have to do a background check.

    The only time you don’t is for private transfers between two law abiding citizens. Typically these people are relatives, friends or co-workers, and as such know the criminal background of the recipient already.

    Even the Dept of Justice admitted in 2013 that less than 4% of all “crime guns” it traced for a study entered the black market through private transfers.

    Thank goodness that the people and government of Wisconsin are smart enough to see through this particular piece of gun control legislation and ignore it.

  • TexTopCat

    For better safety we need to increase the number of armed and trained good guys as compared to bad guys. Since, bad guys are bad guys because the break laws, we need more law enforcement of the existing non-gun laws. And we need to rid our society of places where criminals can kill innocent victims and the victims are prevented from fighting back. So, repeal the Brady laws that created the No Gun Zones as a start in the right direction. Next, put gun training in the high schools and have local city law enforcement provide low cost training and practice for citizens.

  • Dean Weingarten

    Private sales of firearms is not a “loophole”. It is what keeps the failed “background check” system from becoming a national registration system. We need more private sales, not less. Trying to keep guns from criminals by punishing the vast majority of law abiding gun owners is counter productive. It is the old theory of “mass punishment” in order to get a few to behave. It does not work.

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