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Assembly Speaker Vos says 'very little' can be done to prevent mass shootings

robin vos
Posted at 8:27 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 23:31:32-04

MADISON — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says there is very little Wisconsin can do to prevent mass shootings besides arresting the shooters.

Vos made the comment during a press conference at the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon. He was responding to questions regarding whether more stringent background checks for weapons purchases would make people safer, following the deadly mass shootings in Oconomowoc, Atlanta and now Boulder.

Vos said that he has not exactly seen how guns used in recent mass shootings were obtained. "But if they were done lawfully, seems like we already have a process: that if someone chooses to break the law, there is very little we can do besides arrest them after the act," the Speaker said.

Currently, federal background checks are supposed to keep weapons in the hands of lawful citizens. The background checks are required for sales at federally licensed gun dealers.

But background checks are not required in sales between private citizens, such as at some gun shows.

Vos argued Tuesday that the current system is the one lawmakers should focus on.

"We know that the vast majority of weapons purchased in the state already go through a background check process. We already have the federal system. We know that it is a very limited number, especially now with COVID, where you do not have anywhere near the number of gun shows and all those things," according to Vos.

State Democrats meanwhile are pushing for more stringent background checks in Wisconsin.

In a statement Tuesday, State Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) pushed for reform. "Gun violence is an epidemic, and our legislators must implement common sense regulations to keep our communities safe," according to Stubbs.

And State Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) called for "immediate action" to address gun safety measures in Wisconsin.

“It’s time to stop talking and start doing. Gun safety legislation saves lives. I am thinking of those who lost their lives and those who were impacted by the shooting in Boulder, Colorado yesterday at the hands of a domestic terrorist,” according to Agard.

Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic lawmakers proposed an expansion of background checks for gun sales in 2019. Republicans dodged the proposal by ending a special session as soon as they started it.

Correction: A previous version of this story referred to the Assembly Speaker as Ron Vos. His name is Robin Vos.

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