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UPDATE: Republicans open and close special session on gun laws without debate

UPDATE (WKOW) —  Republicans opened and closed the special legislative session tonight in one motion without any other lawmakers in the chamber or debate on the gun bills Gov. Evers asked them to consider.

The pair of bills would mandate universal background checks on

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald took to the front of an empty senate chamber to gavel into the special session and immediately adjourn. The whole session lasted about 30 seconds.

Fitzgerald spoke briefly after the short session explaining that he didn’t call Republicans in or bring the bills to the floor because they would never pass and he doesn’t believe the bills would make any real impact.

“I don’t think these bills solve the issue of gun violence,” he said. “That’s the premise right? There are many other things that play into that including mental illness.”

In the Assembly, Republicans spent much of the last day of their session discussing suicide prevention bills, which they said would likely save more lives.

As each bill came to the floor Democrats took their chance during the discussion to ask why Republicans refuse to address gun violence. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) brought up the Paradigm shooting, claiming Middleton’s police chief supports these bills and believes they could have prevented an incident like the workplace shooting.

“How about listening to the people?” she asked Republicans. “If we’re not going to take up a special session today. Can we schedule a hearing? It’s November. Can we schedule a hearing for the Assembly? And can we invite people to come in?”

She and other Democrats along with Gov. Evers brought up the Marquette Law School poll which shows 80 percent of Wisconsinites support universal background checks. They claim Republicans are ignoring these voters by choosing not to even allow bring these bills to the floor.

With both the Senate and Assembly special sessions adjourned, it’s unlikely the bills will ever come to floor. The Assembly reconvenes next week but the Senate doesn’t come back until January.

MADISON (WKOW) — Governor Evers’ call for lawmakers to vote on pair of gun reform bills during the special session will be short-lived.

Republican leaders said they plan to end the special session as soon as it session begins, but as of 6:00 p.m., the session has not been called.

The day was filled with emotional stories from those impacted by gun violence as Democrats urged Republicans to act now on a pair of gun reform bills, universal background checks, and a “red flag” law. 

Senate Democrats met briefly in the chambers this afternoon, but not a single Republican showed up.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said the governor is “playing politics” by calling this session because a majority of his caucus opposes proposals they believe infringe on someone’s second amendment rights.

Governor Evers sent a letter to Speaker Vos and Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) a letter this morning urging them to act.

“It’s time to stop with the partisan games and political power grabs, and start listening to the people of this state,” Evers wrote.

The Assembly is voting on a package of suicide prevention bills which Republicans believe are more effective at saving lives than Democrats proposal to allow judges to take guns away from people who are deemed a threat.

Proposals include requiring schools to include suicide prevention hotlines on student ID cards and allow people to lock up their guns at gun shops.

“If you love someone and you are concerned about their mental health you have the discussion it’s probably best not to have weapons in the house and here’s a place that’s willing to take it for free to be able to store them,” said Vos.


Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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