June 22, 2016

We need to overhaul gun laws

Senator Lena C. Taylor

Gun violence is not inevitable.

But you wouldn’t know it by watching the inaction of the US Congress. This week, Congress failed to act on four common-sense measures that could save lives. Those bills included:

  • More funding for background checks and banning people with certain mental illnesses from buying guns
  • Allow gun sales to be blocked for up to 3 days for probable cause of terroristic activities pending a court review.
  • Requiring universal background checks, even at gun shows, for gun sales.
  • Banning gun sales to anyone on the terrorist watch list in the past five years, also known as “No Fly, No Buy.”

I’ve never shied away from the gun debate. I believe in protecting all the constitutional rights, not just the ones I like. That means I support the rights of law abiding citizens to arm themselves for protection. But I also believe in common sense solutions to crack down on gun violence.

Throughout my career, I’ve passed four public safety bills into law, including:

  • Shot Spotter funding à I authored the first law in state history to provide state funds for the Shot Spotter program. Shot Spotter confirms gunfire and sends the precise location to the police before the public even has an opportunity to call it in. The law provided an extra $175,000 to more than triple the program from 3 to 11 square miles.
  • Taking guns from domestic abusers à This law requires domestic abusers to surrender their firearms while under a restraining order.
  • Officer-involved death investigations à This law was the first of its kind in the nation. The law requires an independent investigation in the event of an officer-involved death.
  • Mental health competency training for law enforcement à 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.

As you can see, when it comes to fighting for more public safety, I’m not new to this, I’m true to this. If you know anything about me, you know that it’s about helping people, not taking victory laps. That’s why this past legislative session alone, I authored five more bills to increase public safety. Both of my bills, universal background checks and the “No Fly, No Buy” are so popular that Congressional Democrats just tried to pass them. Additionally, I tried to increase the training requirements for concealed carry permit holders, require proof of insurance for concealed carry permit holders and microstamping bullets to help the police catch criminals who are shooting up our streets.

Sadly, just like in Congress, Republicans refused to even give one of my five gun safety bills a public hearing.

Last year in Milwaukee, there were 125 gun homicides. 76 of them have yet to have a single arrest. Not only are people killing on our streets, but people are literally getting away with murder in Milwaukee.

I’m the first to say there is more behind gun violence than gun laws. But newsflash, these murders are happening while current laws are in place. Smarter laws could reduce crime. If better gun laws save lives, wouldn’t they be worth it?

Connect with Senator Lena C. Taylor on social media on Facebook.com/SenLenaTaylor, Twitter.com/SenTaylor or follow her at Instagram.com/Lena.Taylor.