MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is calling the Republican-controlled Legislature into a special session to take up a pair of gun control measures that GOP leaders have been unwilling to debate.
The move Evers announced Monday does not force Republicans to debate or vote on the bills. But it does give Democrats another means to spotlight the issues that a poll in August showed more than 80% of the public support.
Evers wants the Legislature to take up a bill creating universal background checks for most handgun purchases. He’s also calling them to vote on a “red flag” bill that would give judges the power to take weapons away from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
This is the first special session Evers has called as governor.
During a stop in Eau Claire, Evers said he is doing what Wisconsinites want.
“These are common-sense solutions that we know can save lives, because they’ve already done so in states that have implemented them. It’s that simple. Two bills that we know without a doubt, without ambiguity, this is what the majority of the people in the state want,” Evers said.
In his speech, Evers referenced August’s Marquette University Law School Poll which showed 80% of the public supports both bills he is pushing.
“How could you be a legislator, representing a district, and having 80 percent of the people in the state of Wisconsin saying, ‘this is what we want’, and say no to that? I want people on the record,” Evers said.
Republicans are not sold. Eau Claire County Republican Party Representative Brian Westrate is accusing the governor of playing politics.
“This is a political stunt. Because he knows that these bills are not going to go anywhere, he knows that they do not have the support of the legislators currently in control. I don’t think that the average Wisconsinite is looking for their legislature to be called into session so that Governor Evers can hold a press conference. I think they’re looking for people from both sides to come together to actually work on the issues that are facing the state, and beyond that, the nation,” Westrate said.
When the bills were introduced, they were quickly shot down by the legislatures.
Monday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called the measures a “first attack on the second amendment.”