Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced this week his intention to call a special legislative session to compel state legislators to pass a “red flag” law and a universal background check bill.
The move was met with staunch opposition by House and Senate Republicans, who control the legislature and are under no obligation to consider any of the governor’s proposals.
That hasn’t stopped Gov. Evers from his crusade – and from threatening to call a special session as many times as it takes to force Republicans to act, according to the Journal Sentinel.
The governor has described Republicans as going against the will of their constituents after a University of Marquette Law School poll seemingly indicated broad support for universal background checks and so-called red flag laws.
“How many times can you go against 80% of the people of the state of Wisconsin … essentially telling them to go to hell and expect to be re-elected?” Evers said Monday. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”
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Evers, along with much of the mainstream media coverage, fails to mention that the poll questions do not encompass the scope of the policy proposals.
The universal background check bill put forward by Wisconsin Democrats only allows private transfers between “family members,” but it defines “family” as “spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild.” The bill also only allows firearms to be “gifted, bequested, or inherited” without a background check. If the firearm is sold, the purchaser must pass a check, no matter the relationship with the seller.
The Marquette survey question mentions none of this. It only askes, “Do you support or oppose making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks?”
The red flag question similarly misrepresents the actual language of the legislation. It asks, “Would you support or oppose a law allowing the police to take guns away from people who have been found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others?”
The bill, by contrast, would also allow family or household members to request that a person’s guns be confiscated. In addition, “found by a judge” hides the fact that the judge’s ruling can come without a hearing. Under the legislation, a person’s firearms can be confiscated simply by obtaining a judge’s signature.
Wisconsin Republicans don’t appear to be taking Evers’ bait. They’ve indicated their plan to end the special session as soon as it begins.
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“Liberals across the country are upping their rhetoric in support of taking guns from law-abiding citizens,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement. “The Senate will not be part of a drawn-out strategy to infringe on constitutional rights.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the proposals infringe on Second Amendment rights.
“A special session call will not change where my Assembly Republican colleagues and I stand on protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of Wisconsin citizens,” Vos said. “As I have repeatedly said, we will not entertain proposals that infringe on our constitutional rights.”
Republican leaders are especially wary of Evers’ intentions after the governor mentioned he’d “consider” a mandatory buyback of so-called “assault weapons.” Assembly leaders see the governor’s special session as a way to advance that agenda.
“Today’s call is another indication that Governor Evers stands ready to confiscate guns in our state,” Vos said.
This isn’t the first time this year a Democratic governor has called a special session for a Republican-controlled legislature to consider gun control policies. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called a special session earlier this year to consider a full slate of gun control proposals, but Republicans ended it after less than two hours.
By all indications, Gov. Evers’ special session will meet with a similar fate.