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Lawmakers and Gun Safety Advocates Call for More Gun Safety Legislation at the State Capitol

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 -- 12:00 PM

(By Anya van Wagtendonk, Wisconsin Public Radio) On the 27th anniversary of her brother’s murder Thursday, Marlena Banks spoke at the Wisconsin State Capitol to advocate for gun safety legislation, according to Anya van Wagtendonk with Wisconsin Public Radio

"This affects more than just a community. It breaks families," she said of gun violence. "I just hope that our legislators do care enough to pass these laws that would save lives and prevent the hurt that our family has had to go through."

Banks and other advocates against gun violence were in Madison to demand action on legislation that they said will reduce gun homicides and suicides. They joined with Democratic lawmakers and the Democratic attorney general in calling for universal background checks and a "red flag" law that would allow guns to be temporarily removed from people deemed dangerous.

Bills to implement those policies have been introduced by Democrats, and are unlikely to pass the GOP-held legislature. Attorney General Josh Kaul called those measures "common sense."

"To the legislators who are blocking this from moving forward: let me just say this," he said Thursday. "If you are blocking common sense gun safety legislation from moving forward, you are not tough on crime."

The group also supports two bipartisan proposals: one that would offer a tax incentive for gun safety devices, like trigger locks and gun safes, and one that would train gun store owners to respond to signs of suicidality in customers.

About two-thirds of gun deaths in Wisconsin each year are suicides, according to data from Everytown, a national gun safety group. Both suicides and homicides by gun have increased in Wisconsin, as elsewhere, in recent years.

Research shows that white people are most at risk for firearm suicides, while people of color, especially Black people, are most at risk for firearm homicides. And guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens across the country, including in Wisconsin, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The number of children being treated for gunshot wounds at Children’s Wisconsin hospital has spiked in recent years, according to the hospital’s president, Peggy Troy. For those reasons, the advocates said Thursday, all Wisconsinites are affected by gun violence.

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