By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Ramping up for the election year ahead, Democrats are again pushing a round of assaults on the Second Amendment.
Will the Republican-led Legislature once more check the left’s attempts to restrict gun ownership in Wisconsin?
Liberal lawmakers last week introduced a package of bills, including another go at universal background checks, requiring the Department of Justice to do background checks on all gun sales in Wisconsin. The bill bans firearms transfers unless they occur through a federally licensed firearms dealer and include a background check for the buyer. It targets transfers to law enforcement and armed services agencies, firearms dealers, even antique firearms. It would also involve transfers for hunting or target shooting and firearms classified as gifts or inheritance between family members.
Violators could be fined as much as $10,000 and face a jail sentence of up to nine months under the misdemeanor.
Leftist Attorney General Josh Kaul took time from his busy schedule defending a convicted rapist in a workforce dispute to push the gun-control package.
In announcing the measures, Kaul leaned on the left’s tired fear-mongering weapon: the pandemic. He asserts the gun-control measures are particularly necessary during a health crisis that has seen a spike in mental health issues and violence. He fails to note that Milwaukee, a liberal-led city, has seen the biggest surge in violent crime and homicide among cities with populations of 500,000 or more — mainly thanks to people who are prohibited from owning guns in the first place. Many of the accused killers are repeat offenders and out on the streets because of Milwaukee County’s revolving door judicial system.
Another measure in the gun-control package would establish a constitutionally suspect “red flag” law. Dems have massaged the language, describing the orders as “extreme risk protection” laws. The gun-control initiatives allow police or family members to petition a state court to order the “temporary” removal of firearms from anyone they believe to be a danger to themselves or others.
The legislation would allow disgruntled acquaintances to bring any number of exaggerated complaints to nervous liberal courts to undermine the rights of law-abiding firearm owners without due process.
Under the bill, in cases where law enforcement fails to serve notice, the subject of the order would be guilty of a felony after 24 hours of being unaware of the court order. Second Amendment advocates say the legislation is poorly contrived.
Left out of the extreme gun-control lobby’s talking points is the existence of Wisconsin’s Chapter 51, Mental Health Act, process. In cases where an individual experiences a mental health crisis and becomes a threat to the safety of themselves or others, Chapter 51 provides for in-patient care, without imperiling due process. Second Amendment watchers say a red flag law would ultimately clog up the courts to confiscate firearms while leaving an at-risk individual in the community.
“These proposals will not make us safer. These bills are unconstitutional gun grabs that only affect law abiding citizens,” said Lane Ruhland, vice president of Wisconsin Firearms Owners. “If these elected officials want to address gun crimes they should ensure there are consequences for violating the laws already in place — not punish someone with nine months in prison if they forget to pick up the shotgun they lent to their friend on their trap team.”
Ruhland previously served as special counsel and deputy chief of staff for former Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel.
The latest round of gun-control legislation comes nearly two years after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ pushed his failed “special session on guns.”
Democrats hope to make the issue a key talking point for Evers and Kaul in particular, both very vulnerable in their re-election bids.