Thursday, August 8, 2019

WI GOP dithers on gun safety, but good news. No mass shootings for 11 days.

I think we need to lay off Wisconsin's elected officials for a while when it comes to making them think about public health and gun safety.

For one thing, the decision-makers being hounded for answers these days, like GOP US Senator Ron Johnson,

Ron Johnson, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, are supposed to be on break. Everyone knows what a drag it is to get a call about work when you're on vacation.

And look: you know how strapped the state is for cash, so it's not easy for Vos to just hire new people and reach out to staffers or outside attorneys and get some expert help on whether gun laws need to be changed.

And just because other states have implemented stronger background check legislation or controls on civilians' access to assault rifles - - data, here - - doesn't necessarily mean there's a Wisconsin solution available.

Remember that Wisconsin is doing just fine on another life-and-death public safety issue - - legislating to prevent drinking and driving  - - so because 49 other states treat a first offense conviction as a misdemeanor to make the experience a significant, preventative intervention in the offender's life doesn't mean that a similar approach could work here where a first conviction is only a ticket, skeptics would say.

We need to see how difficult these gun safety issues are for Wisconsin incumbent officials.

The Journal Sentinel reported that Johnson is "skeptical" about the efficacy of expanded, gun-buyer background check. 

He's only been a US Senator since January, 2011 and while the mass shooting death tolls have risen, he's had even less time to think about it all since his eight pro 'gun rights' votes in 2013. You just can't rush these things.

And in that vein, let's also remember that Vos and Fitzgerald don't have, say, a half-century of elected official experience apiece in Wisconsin to draw on when difficult public health and safety issues just pop up out of nowhere. 

Fifty years is merely their joint cumulative total service as elected - - Fitzgerald was elected to the State Senate in 1994 - - a blink of eye in the life of a career politician - - while Vos was elected to the Racine County Board in the same year, and then moved up to the State Assembly only in 2004. 

What can you possibly do in the Assembly in only 15 years, especially if you've got flights to catch, a popcorn business to run, renegades like Jimmy Anderson to slap down for questioning your authority,  and multiple rental units to supervise. Imagine the late night plumbing repairs.

Just look at how tough it can get being Senate Majority Leader:

Senator Scott Fitzgerald facing backlash after denying vote to make animal sexual abuse a felony
So give these over-worked public officials some space. Remember that Wisconsin Republican officials just hate to be rushed, which is why they took a whole 54 days to iron out any skepticism about and sign into law the state's largest tax break package, related legal exemptions and additional environmental waivers for Foxconn.

You're that careful when picking winners and losers with other people's money and their homesteads, so can we at least have a 54-day period of Foxconn-style reflection on public safety?

It's been reported that Vos is 'cool' to the idea of more gun safety legislation, and Johnson is no doubt working through his skepticism.

After all, Wisconsin under GOP control loosened or eliminated various pesky controls on weapon possession during the Walker era, yet good news - - 
 Wisconsin hasn't had a mass shooting for eleven days.

CHIPPEWA FALLS — A shooting spree that took place Sunday in Chippewa County has left five people dead.

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