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Guns and the Ballot Box

July 09, 2016

Guns are emerging as a major issue in the August 9th legislative primaries, and rightly so. Given what comes out of the barrel of a gun, it should be an important issue in this election.

With Milwaukee seeing record high violent crimes, the issue of guns is front and center.

Gun violence is in the news this week after multiple high profile incidents in which law enforcement shot and killed people. We put such great trust and responsibility in the hands of law enforcement.

We trust them to keep our families safe and we trust them with our lives. That’s why, when a police officer takes a life, it is such a tragic event.

Such a high level of responsibility should mean that law enforcement should have to live up to a higher standard.

That’s why I authored Wisconsin’s first-in-the-nation law that requires an independent review of all officer-involved deaths. Wisconsin’s law isn’t perfect, but it did kick start the national trend to draft such laws.

Because so many gun deaths at the hands of law enforcement involve mental illness, I also authored a law to pave the way for greater mental health competency training requirements.

This law was inspired by the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton. The law increased training hours required to be a police officer, paving the way for greater mental health competency training.

Not all gun deaths come at the hands of law enforcement. Far too often, people who shouldn’t have a gun do tragic things with them.

Take for example, the recent mass murder in Florida. In that instance, a man whose ex-wife accused him of domestic violence shot up a club in Florida. While Florida may seem far away, right here at home in Milwaukee last year, we saw a record number of gun deaths. Sadly, this year we’ve seen many more.

Several years ago, a shooting at a Milwaukee County spa led me to pass a third law that requires domestic abusers to surrender their firearms while under a restraining order. While the shooter in Florida wasn’t under a restraining order at the time of the shooting, these incidents prove that domestic violence and guns don’t mix. The most common form of gun deaths happen on the streets in targeted homicide attempts.

Milwaukee’s ShotSpotter program has proven to reduce police response times by alerting law enforcement right away, rather than waiting on members of the public to phone in shots fired. A fourth gun safety law I authored provided $175,000 to more than triple the coverage of the Shot Spotter program from 3 square miles to 11 square miles.

There is little that is more important than the safety of our families. I am proud of federal elected officials such as Congresswoman Gwen Moore for standing up to House Speaker Paul Ryan and trying to force a vote on common sense gun safety measures.

Unfortunately, with Republicans in charge of the Wisconsin State House and Congress, we need the backing of the people to pass more laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

That means it’s up to you to keep gun safety front and center in these and all upcoming elections.

To see Senator Taylor’s complete record on public safety, view her issue paper here.

Milwaukee Courier Online