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Senator Lena Taylor on ‘red flag’ bill: ‘This is not a conspiracy to take guns away’

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MADISON -- As Wisconsin Democrats push for Republican colleagues to support a bill that would allow a judge to seize a person's firearms if they were deemed a danger to themselves or others, Republicans and some gun owners called it a nonstarter, despite polling that shows otherwise.

Democratic lawmakers introduced the bill that would allow for a person's firearms to be seized by a judge for up to a year if the person poses a threat to themselves or others.

"People are clearly going from zero to 1,000 -- rapidly," said Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

Senator Taylor authored the bill, and said it would work similar to domestic violence restraining orders and injunctions.

"This is not, by any means, a part of some conspiracy to take an individual's guns away," said Senator Taylor.

Governor Tony Evers

A Marquette University Law School poll released Sept. 4 found 81% of gun-owning households support such a measure, with 13% opposed.

Support or oppose red-flag law by gun in household (August 2019)

Gun Household Support Oppose Don’t know
Yes 81 13 7
No 86 9 6
Refused 46 25 29
Shane McVey

Shane McVey

"My first reaction is that it's unconstitutional," said Shane McVey, gunsmith.

At the Bob & Rocco Gun Show in Waukesha, some gun owners feared a red flag law would infringe on their rights.

Ron Martin

Ron Martin

"The red flag law, to me, is the worst possible thing they could ever pass because it takes away due process," said Ron Martin, show director. "To me, it's totally unconstitutional."

Republican leadership, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said, "We believe this legislation poses threats to due process and the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."

Taylor disagreed.

"The issue is, what can we do where we can see some places and provide some tools so that we can keep our schools safe, keep our people safe, and give an opportunity for the courts to -- on a temporary basis -- to be able to do something?" said Senator Taylor.


It's unclear what chance the bill has of being heard in the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate. Republicans have insisted restricting gun access won't prevent mass shootings. Republicans have instead pointed to $100 million in school safety grant programs, and the need to focus on mental health.

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