State Senate Democrats Push For Universal Background Checks

By: Clare Kaley Email
By: Clare Kaley Email

The call from Democrats for expanded gun background checks comes as Republicans in the majority have moved two bills ahead.

The Senate's public safety committee unanimously endorsed a measure that would create a formal legal process for confiscating guns from people subject to domestic retraining orders. The same panel approved a proposal that would require judges preparing to return weapons as restraining orders expire to ask the state justice department to determine if anything else in the person's record prohibits them from possessing a gun.

Current law requires only background checks for gun buyers from federally licensed dealers. But this bill would require background checks for all sales, including those made online and at gun shows.

Democratic Senator, Nikiya Harris of Milwaukee, says that an 18% increase in Milwaukee's homicide rate is one reason to close "loopholes" in the public safety system.

"How much longer will we consider, and this is blunt, dead 6-year-olds, domestic violence victims, and other innocent victims of gun crimes to be acceptable collateral sacrificed for easy access to weapons," Harris said.

Harris said without universal background checks, the State's current laws preventing felons from possessing guns are meaningless.

At the hearing Thursday, legislators stood behind boxes of 16,500 signatures from Wisconsin residents who support universal background checks.

Republican lawmakers have yet to schedule a hearing on the bill.

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