Attorney General Kaul supports new gun laws

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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY/AP) - In the wake of recent mass shootings across the United States, there's a new call for action by state officials for ways to make Wisconsin communities safer.

But not everyone here in Wisconsin agrees with Gov. Tony Evers' push for new gun laws.

After a phone call to both Republican legislative leaders, Gov. Evers will meet with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald next week.

The governor's goal is to get bipartisan support for universal background checks and a red flag law.

"Red flag law allows a judge to issue an order that allows that firearm to temporarily be removed from a person if a family member or law enforcement officer comes forward," Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul explained.

Fitzgerald and Vos have voiced opposition to red flag laws, saying they could be too broad.

Vos tweeted Tuesday, "I will not entertain proposals to take away Second Amendment rights or due process."

At the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Conference on Tuesday, Kaul said any such law would have to be carefully targeted.

"We want to protect Second Amendment rights of people who are law-abiding firearm owners who are not a danger to commit a crime, but if we have someone making threats to commit one of these horrible tragedies, I also think we need a tool to allow law enforcement to take action to prevent that from happening," Kaul said.

Kaul went on to say that whenever a mass shooting happens there are usually a lot of calls for action. He hopes this time around he sees some change.

"The good news is, there has been movement from some people when it comes to support common-sense legislation. The president said he supports red flag law. The governor in Ohio supports expanded background checks. I am hopeful in Wisconsin, even though these events happened elsewhere, that we are going to take action now so that we aren't having to think about action in the wake of a tragedy here in Wisconsin."

"What we need is political will," Kaul said. "We need legislators to come together, hold hearings on these issues, and hopefully take action to keep our communities safer."

Fitzgerald said any proposals will be discussed by Republicans in a closed caucus in the fall, similar to legislation in previous years.

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1:06 p.m. update

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers plans to meet next week with Republican legislative leaders to discuss a pair of gun control measures in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Evers' spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff says the governor called both Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Monday night to talk about the issue. Both Vos and Fitzgerald agreed to meet next week.

Evers on Monday called on the Legislature to pass a universal background check bill and a so-called red flag law that would make it easier to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Neither Fitzgerald nor Vos have voiced support for either measure.

Baldauff says the governor is hoping for bipartisan support to pass the bills as quickly as possible.

Vos says it will be the first meeting with the governor in months. He also intends to talk with the governor about water quality, suicide prevention and adoption.

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The Republican leader of the Wisconsin Senate isn't saying whether he will consider gun control measures that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is calling on the Legislature to take up in the wake of recent mass shootings.

Evers on Monday called on the Legislature to pass a universal background check bill and a so-called red flag law that would make it easier to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Both Fitzgerald and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have been cool to the "red flag" proposal, saying it could be too broad.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, who supports the governor's push, said a red flag law would have to be targeted.

"We want to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of people who are law-abiding, firearm owners who are not a danger to commit a crime," said Kaul. "But if we have someone making threats to commit one of these horrible tragedies, I also think we need a tool to allow law enforcement to take action to prevent that from happening."

Kaul goes on to say whenever a mass shooting happens there's usually a lot of calls for action and he hopes this time around he sees some change.

"What we need is political will. We need legislators to come together, hold hearings on these issues and hopefully take action to keep our communities safer," said Kaul. "The good news is there has been movement from some people when it comes to supporting common-sense legislation. The president said he supports red flag law, the governor in Ohio supports expanded background checks so I am hopeful in Wisconsin, even though these events happened elsewhere, that we are going to take action now so that we aren’t having to think about action in the wake of a tragedy here in Wisconsin."

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says Tuesday that any new proposals will be discussed by Republicans in closed caucus this fall, "like we always do."
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