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What Can State Do About Mass Shootings?

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Wisconsin State Capitol at night
Wisconsin State Capitol at night

MADISON, WI (WSAU) Wisconsin Democrats will ask Governor Scott Walker today to form a bi-partisan commission to look at what the state can do to prevent mass shootings. The Republican Walker told a Milwaukee radio station yesterday that the Connecticut school massacre exposed a “real breakdown” in the nation’s mental health system. But he would not say whether he’d support new gun control measures. And on Friday, the governor said it was too early to think about how the Connecticut shootings could have been prevented.

Other state Republicans have been silent on the topic. Some federal lawmakers in Washington, including two pro-gun Democrats, said a ban on assault weapons should at least be considered.

Democratic state Assembly Leader Peter Barca, who plans to talk to Walker today on the subject, said he would not push for gun control right away. Barca said he wants to wait to see what President Obama proposes. Obama promised action when he spoke to grieving residents in Newtown Connecticut on Sunday night.

Barca said it’s not the time for politics – but it is time to have an important discussion about preventing mass shootings. Barca said a state commission should look for ways to prevent the mentally-ill from obtaining weapons.

Assembly Democrat Fred Kessler of Milwaukee, a former judge, said he was working on a bill to limit the ability of the mentally ill to obtain weapons. He said an assault weapon ban might be impossible to get past the National Rifle Association – but he at least wants the subject on the table so it can be discussed.

Wisconsin had two mass shootings of its own this year – the Oak Creek temple massacre in August, and the killings of three women in domestic violence at a Brookfield spa in October.

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