MADISON -- Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic lawmakers on Thursday, Aug. 15 proposed an expansion of background checks for gun sales in the state and called on Republicans who control the Legislature to pass the measure, even though GOP leaders have said they don't support such a move.
Gov. Evers and other Democratic lawmakers said the bill aims to close the background check loophole. Republican lawmakers who oppose it said they feel it violates a constitutional right.
"The bottom line is, the vast majority of gun owners in Wisconsin agree with us," Evers said during a Thursday morning news conference.
The move came in the wake of mass shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Currently, federally-licensed firearms dealers require background checks, but private-party transactions are not covered by that law.
"This is an issue that should transcend political parties," Evers said.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos stated during a radio interview on Thursday that he felt it was unlikely the Republican-controlled Legislature would support the move -- or a so-called 'red flag' law that allows officials to take guns away from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
"That's the very idea of a constitutional right -- is that no one can take it away from you," Vos said during The Jay Weber Show on News-Talk 1130 WISN.
Democrats maintained the bill is reasonable, while Speaker Vos said he believes other issued need to be addressed first.
"My hope is we focus on what actually can be done, and that's dealing with mental health issues; trying to make sure people make better decisions," Vos said.
Exceptions listed in the bill include a sale or transfer to a firearms dealer, law enforcement, or to a member of the armed services; a sale or transfer of a firearm classified as antique; or a transfer that is by gift, bequest, or inheritance to a family member.
Under the bill, violators would be subject to a fine up to $10,000, up to 9 months in prison, and may not possess a firearm for two years.