In the recent aftermath of the mass shooting at a Michigan high school, where four students were killed as well as six students and one teacher were wounded, the Assembly Committee on State Affairs held a public hearing on Assembly Bill 597 (AB 597), legislation that makes it easier to possess a gun in some Wisconsin schools.

“Republican legislators need to stop listening to extreme gun groups and the NRA and start listening to their constituents,” said State Representative Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay). “An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin voters want laws that protect the public from our epidemic of gun violence, not allow more guns in more places – especially schools.”

AB 597 would allow a person to possess a firearm in a place of worship located on the grounds of a private school, if allowed by the place of worship’s written policy. The Wisconsin Council of Churches, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) oppose the legislation while the Wisconsin Gun Owners Association and the NRA have registered in support.

“The tragedy at Oxford High School in Michigan underscores the need for guns to be stored safely, locked and out of the hands of children, teens, and those intent to do harm,” said State Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison). “That is why my Democratic colleagues and I introduced our ‘Safe Storage for Gun Safety’ legislation requiring secure storage of firearms. Instead of advancing legislation that would only result in more guns on school grounds, I urge my Republican colleagues to join us in supporting our safe storage legislation and other common sense reforms to prevent gun violence.”

The six bills included in the “Safe Storage for Gun Safety” legislation are:

  • LRB−0936 would require businesses that sell firearms to secure all firearms when the business is unattended. This legislation would prevent criminals who break into a gun store from simply walking off with as many handguns as they can carry.
  • LRB−1097 would require a gun owner to store firearms in a locked container or have a locking device engaged if a child is living in the residence or present in the home.
  • LRB−1099 would require that the seller provide the individual receiving the gun with a secure lockable container or trigger lock for the firearm at the time of sale or transfer of a gun.
  • LRB−1100 would require reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours of discovering they are lost or stolen. This legislation enables law enforcement to trace guns more effectively and makes for the successful prosecution of users of stolen guns more likely.
  • LRB-4334 would make it a Class A misdemeanor if an individual leaves a firearm in their unattended and unlocked vehicle, and the firearm is subsequently stolen.
  • LRB-5408 would require a gun owner to store firearms in a locked container or with a locking device engaged, except when carrying the firearm, if a person who cannot legally possess a firearm lives in the residence.

“In addition to the ‘Safe Storage for Gun Safety’ bills introduced last week, back in September, my colleagues and I proposed legislation that ensures background checks on all gun sales (AB 637) and establishes an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) (AB 638). ERPOs empower local law enforcement to intervene in situations like the tragedy in Michigan before it’s too late,” said Andraca. “Unfortunately, neither of these bills has received a public hearing. As elected leaders, we should be prioritizing proposals that could save Wisconsinites’ lives.”

While taking no action on most gun safety measures, Republican leaders have held hearings on or passed bills that would:

  • Legalize having firearms in a vehicle on school grounds (AB 495)
  • Restrict enforcement of Federal firearms regulations (AB 293)
  • Limit civil liability for firearm manufacturers, sellers, and dealers (AB 572)
  • Repeal hunter education requirements for children under 18 (AB 670)
  • Reduce the age to be eligible for a concealed carry license (AB 498)
  • Reduce or eliminate the requirements for concealed carry and allow guns in taverns, police stations, houses of correction and secure mental health facilities (SB 619)

“We have the power to curb gun violence with safe storage laws and other common sense legislation that preserves public safety without infringing on anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” said State Representative Subeck. “Every Wisconsin family deserves the peace of mind that comes from knowing their children are safe from gun violence whether they are at home, at school, or out in the community.”