Politicians Need to Protect Our Right to Live Free From Fear of Mass Shootings, Not Gun Lobby Interests

We all deserve the right to feel safe in our homes, our workplace, our school, places of worship, and everywhere we visit.

We all deserve the right to feel safe in our homes, our workplace, our school, places of worship, and everywhere we visit.

But as we were once again brutally reminded in the wake of two mass shootings in the span of 10 days – one at a grocery store, the other an elementary school – our right to be safe in our communities and the freedom to live without fear of gun violence is sorely lacking.

The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24 marked the 212th mass shooting in the United States so far in 2022. And as we join in mourning another senseless gun violence massacre, aghast at the sorrow of the parents and loved ones of the children and teachers who were lost in Uvalde, we also join in raising our voices and demanding action.

President Biden rightly asked in the hours after this latest mass shooting  tragedy, when will we stand up to the gun lobby?

While places like Buffalo and Uvalde can seem far away from us here in Wisconsin, the gun lobby is working to influence Wisconsin politicians and derail common sense gun safety laws.

Politicians like Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who as of 2019 had received more than $1.2 million in campaign donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), and is still in Washington D.C. opposing measures to keep deadly firearms out of dangerous people’s possession.

Those who have been granted the privilege of governing in our names, whether it be in federal, state or local office, need to put constituents over greed, listen to our voices, and they need to act.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers is advocating for common sense gun safety measures supported by an overwhelming majority of Wisconsin residents.

Recent polling from Marquette University Law School shows that more than 80% of all Wisconsinites, including 78% of households that own guns, support mandatory background checks for all firearm purchases. That same polling revealed that over 80% of people living in Wisconsin are in favor of Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation, a measure that would allow law enforcement and family members to petition courts to keep people who are a danger to themselves or others from having guns.

When Gov. Evers called for a special legislative session to take up these common sense proposals, the Republican legislators in charge of the state Senate and Assembly refused to even allow a debate, much less a vote on the bills.

It’s clear what is holding Wisconsin back from taking action to help us live free of the fear of gun violence – it’s conservative politicians siding with the gun lobby..

In fact, Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature this last session didn’t just refuse to debate common sense safety laws, they acted to pass bills that would have made it easier to bring guns to places like schools and  churches and put them into the hands of teens.

The bills were publicly opposed by a deluge of leading organizations from across the state, including the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, the Wisconsin Association of School Nurses, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, and End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

Thankfully, Gov. Evers swiftly vetoed the bills, preventing them from becoming law..

Whether it’s parents, students, and teachers showing up to protests, or public organizations opposing specific legislation, the people of Wisconsin have spoken: we want sensible gun safety measures that will save lives.

Together, we can demand that our legislators, our senators, and every elected official pass common sense legislation like background checks and ERPOs, to  help ensure that every Wisconsinite and every American can live in freedom and without fear of gun violence.

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A Better Wisconsin Together is a state-based research and communications hub for progressives.