Larson Report 

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A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
I hope you are having a great week and had a chance to (safely) view the exciting solar eclipse on Monday. I hadn’t been that excited staring into a cereal box since I was a kid.

As you know, a lot of attention has been paid to the state budget and the Trump/Walker/Foxconn proposal. I want to thank my neighbors who took time out of their day on Saturday, August 12 to join us at our Foxconn listening session along with Representatives Brostoff, Sinicki, Crowley, and Sargent. We appreciated the opportunity to have a thoughtful conversation about this very large and expensive proposal. If you missed my update on the Foxconn bill in the last Larson Report, you can view it here. Additionally, you can find an easy breakdown of the proposal here.

While these critical issues have been eclipsing a lot of the other news, there is another great community concern that I know many of our neighbors are concerned about: gun violence and ways to prevent it. We must do all we can to protect our communities from gun violence. There are a lot of misconceptions and bias about our gun laws, so let’s start with this quiz about current gun laws and then talk about how we can get to common sense solutions to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and save lives.

In Service, 


Striving for Safer Communities

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Each and every one of us has a right to live in a safe and secure community. According to the nonprofit organization Kids Forward, a child in our state is killed with a gun about every two weeks. Over 400 kids in Wisconsin had been killed with guns in the 15 year period prior to the release of the report last year. To put this into perspective, guns are the third-leading cause of injury or death for Wisconsin children.

This is unacceptable. And it is preventable. 

With the gun lobby preparing to hold its Carry Guard Expo in Milwaukee this weekend, it is a reminder that with any freedom comes responsibility. We have a strong Wisconsin heritage of owning and possessing firearms but can no longer deny that our laws are too weak, too irresponsible, and too deadly. They need to be fixed. 

Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis with Clear Remedies 
In America, the rate of non-lethal crime and violence is average compared to other industrialized countries. Yet, we have alarmingly high rates of firearm violence and deaths. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed with a gun than people in other developed countries. Among a group of 32 comparable nations, the United States accounts for 30% of the population, but 90% of the gun homicides.

Some states have taken the lead and in proving that the balance between protecting the 2nd Amendment and the lives of our children and loved ones does exist. Even in urban Massachusetts, implementing stronger laws and holding gun owners, dealers, manufacturers, and law enforcement accountable have resulted in dramatically reducing gun violence. In fact, Massachusetts has some of the lowest gun death rates in the country. Importantly, their laws have withstood court challenges, so not only do we know they work we also know they are constitutional. Further, along with the state's firearm homicides being 68% lower than our national average, they also have a 76% lower-than-average gun suicide rate. Read more about the specific gun laws in Massachusetts, here. 

Pushing for Strong Gun Laws in Wisconsin 
No one law has, or ever will, prevent all violence. However, there are simple, common sense changes we can make that will save lives and make our communities safer.

Universal Background Checks (Senate Bill 34)
Perhaps the most-supported gun violence prevention proposal is enacting universal background checks. In Wisconsin, federally licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks on all firearm sales, but private sellers are not. Eight out of 10 Wisconsin residents, including gun owners, support a law requiring background checks for all handgun purchases. Police organizations and law enforcement leaders across the nation support closing the background check loophole. This is with good reason as states with universal background checks on all handgun sales have 48% fewer police officers killed with handguns. 

With growing online accessibility to guns, dangerous felons, domestic abusers, and other potentially violent people who are already legally banned from buying guns can do so -- easily -- online because these are conducted as unlicensed, so-called 'private sales.' A recent study showed that 22% of people in America, who had obtained a gun within the last two years, did not undergo a background check. 

In Wisconsin, this illegal acquisition of guns online can happen easily, and it can lead to devastating consequences. Our community was tragically shaken by the shooting of Zina Daniel in October 2012. Zina had a restraining order to protect her from her abusive husband, Radcliffe Haughton. This order prohibited him from buying a firearm, so he turned to a well-known online classifieds site for guns, Most (90%) of the sales on this site are offered by 'private sellers.' Radcliffe was able to locate a nearby seller within hours, with no background check, and killed Zina, two of her co-workers, and himself the next day while also injuring four others. 

A report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns shows that one in 30 buyers on has a criminal record that prohibits gun ownership. Closing this loophole will save lives and prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. This bill ensures that, with limited exceptions, all firearm sales are done through a federally 
licensed dealer and thus are subject to the background check process.

Senate Bill 34 was introduced on February 9, 2017, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. A public hearing has not yet been held on the bill. 

Safe Storage for Gun Safety Package 
No child should die or be critically injured due to guns. Nationally, when children are unintentionally killed by guns it is self inflicted about 1/3 of the time, with another 1/3 being shot by other children, and 1/6 being shot by older teenagers. The remaining children are unintentionally shot by parents. Most of these kids are boys and most family shooters are brothers. Along with asking parents of a child's friend if guns are in the house and if they are safely stored, there are things that we can do to promote safe gun storage.

For instance, I have signed on as a co-sponsor to a package of bill introduced by my colleague, Rep. Lisa Subeck. These bills will help keep our kids safer by encouraging gun storage safety.

The following bill are included in the the Safe Storage for Gun Safety Package:

  • Assembly Bill 428 -- which would require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours of discovering they are lost or stolen. This legislation enables law enforcement to trace guns more effectively and makes the successful prosecution of users of stolen guns more likely.  

  • Assembly Bill 429 -- which would require a secure, lockable container or trigger lock for a firearm being sold or transferred to be provided to the individual receiving the firearm by the seller. 

  • Assembly Bill 430 -- which would enact the same requirement if a person who cannot legally possess a firearm lives in the home.

  • Assembly Bill 431 -- which would require a gun owner to store firearms in a locked container or have a locking device engaged if there is a child living or present in the home. 

These bills were introduced on June 30, 2017, and referred to the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. No public hearing has been scheduled for any of these bills. 

If you’d like to help move the laws above forward, you can make a difference by calling the Chair Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety,  Senator Wanggaard, at 866-615-7510 or by emailing Sen.Wanggaard@Legis.WI.Gov and kindly ask them to schedule a hearing on Senate Bill 34 and by calling the Chair of Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Representative Spiros, at 888-534-0086 or by emailing Rep.Spiros@Legis.WI.Gov and kindly ask them to hold a hearing on Assembly Bills 428, 429, 430, and 431. 

We must do what we can to leave a safer community and state for our kids. 

Keeping Guns Away from Dangerous Criminals 
According to the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), research shows the clearest predictor of future violence is past violence. One study found that people who lawfully bought handguns, even though they previously had been convicted of two or more violent misdemeanors, were 15 times as likely as handgun purchasers with no criminal history to later be arrested for murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault. 

A bipartisan proposal (LRB 1042) in the State Legislature would move us closer towards keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

LRB 1042 would strengthen our current laws by doing the following:

  • Creating Stronger Laws for Habitual Criminals -- The bill would prohibit an individual from possessing a firearm if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor on three separate occasions within five years. 

  • Cracking Down on Straw Purchasers -- Straw purchasing is when someone knowingly purchases a firearm with the intent to transfer it to someone who could not pass a background check. This bill prohibits an individual from purchasing a firearm with the intent to transfer it to a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. Standalone legislation to address straw purchasing has also been introduced as Senate Bill 17.

  • Prohibiting 'Human Holsters' -- This bill prohibits an individual from furnishing or possessing a firearm for a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. 

  • Affirmative Defense -- This bill creates an affirmative defense against the straw purchasing and human holster criminal penalties if the defendant has ever filed a petition for a domestic abuse or child abuse injunction against the person who the defendant purchased or held the gun for. This provision strives to protect victims of coercion and abuse. 

  • State Form -- When purchasing a firearm, an individual must fill out state and federal notification forms. This bill adds a question to the state form about straw purchasers as an added accountability measure.  

    See a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial about this proposal, here. 

LRB 1042 has been circulated for co-sponsorship, but has not yet been formally introduced to the Legislature. Therefore, the bill has not yet been assigned to a committee. 

Wisconsin Must Continue to Look Forward, Not Move Backward
LRB 1042 is a positive, bipartisan step in the right direction to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. However, other Republican proposals introduced this session aim to make our communities less safe by putting guns in the hands of untrained individuals and going so far as to make it easier to bring guns into our kids' schools. 

The 'Permitless' Carry Bill (Senate Bill 169/Assembly Bill 247) would allow for the carrying of concealed firearms with no training on the rights and responsibilities that come with hidden handguns. Additionally, this bill defies logic and the safety of our children by going against a common sense approach that ensures there is a clear line that says guns are not allowed on school grounds. Instead, this bill takes an irresponsible approach of creating confusion and mandating that our schools take specific steps to keep guns away from our children.

Listen to my Wisconsin Public Radio interview about this proposal to learn more about this bill.

We All Want Safe and Secure Communities
We are a nation of laws. As with any consumer product that poses a threat to our neighbors, such as driving or smoking, laws exist and are modified in order to increase safety and security for our loved ones. Our policies around guns should be treated no differently.

To be clear, the majority of us believe we need to address gun violence with stronger, common sense prevention laws. In fact, many Americans believe widely-supported laws, like universal background checks, are already on the books.   

We have the solutions and public support to make our communities safer. Unfortunately, Republicans are not willing to stand up to gun profiteers looking to grab a dollar at any cost, even our kids' safety. Each day, too many are victims of gun violence. We must continue productive conversations with everyone in our community about how to make our families and neighborhoods safer. 

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Take Action!

As you may know, I've been dropping off a neighborhood survey and talking with neighbors in the 7th Senate District in order to hear more about the concerns and hopes our community members have for our state.

Your input is greatly appreciated and will help me prepare for the remainder of this session. If you haven't already, please take a moment to fill out the 2017 Neighborhood Survey.

I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues! 

In Case You Missed It
Each week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to you. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks.
  • Taking a Stand Against White Supremacy and Hate
    Each of us deserve to live in a community free from fear, terror, or prejudice. Like many of you, I was shocked, saddened, and appalled by the acts of hate and violence in Charlottesville, VA.

    Now more than ever we must take a strong stand against racism and hatred and condemn these acts of violence. I am proud of my Assembly colleagues who stood in unity recently and passed a resolution that condemns white supremacy, hate, and violence. See the Joint Resolution, here. 

  • Stripping Away Protections for our Shared Waters?
    Republicans have proposed yet another piece of legislation that ignores the well-being of Wisconsin lands and waters.

    While we can all agree that family supporting jobs are vital to our communities and state, we also have to weigh the cost to our health and economic sustainability.

    The GOP proposal would roll back protections on sulfide mining and would jeopardize our health and environment. There had been rumors about this legislation for weeks, unfortunately, the proposal is worse than we had feared.

    This legislation is another example of Republicans’ disregard for our proud tradition of conservation in exchange for greater profits for polluters. The current “Prove It First” mining law, only requires mining companies to provide proof a sulfide mine can run for 10 years and be closed for 10 years without contaminating nearby groundwater and surface waters. This basic standard has kept Wisconsin waters safe from acid drainage since 1998.

    Repealing this legislation is a one-way ticket to poisoning Wisconsin citizens and local wildlife alike. Read more about the proposed bill, here. 

  • Ensuring School Supplies For All Kids
    Every child deserves a quality education. Having the proper school supplies is necessary to achieve this.

    88Nine RadioMilwaukee and the Milwaukee Business Journal have joined together to host the second annual No Empty Backpacks School Supplies Drive, from now until August 27.

    The school supply drive will help our Milwaukee Public Schools students at several schools from elementary to high school.
    For more information, including school supply lists and a list of donation locations, you can visit the No Empty Backpacks School Supplies Drive website by clicking here.

  • August is National Water Quality Month.

    Safeguarding our shared waters must be a priority for us all. 
    An interesting read about growing concerns about diminished water quality. This article takes an in-depth look at the dangers of blue-green algae, right in our backyard. It’s an important reminder that safeguarding the air we breathe, our recreational waters, and the water we drink must be a priority for us all.

    This is not an issue that affects someone else’s pond, favorite fishing spot, or farm, it is an issue lurking just beneath the surface in the waters of our neighborhood parks, a short walk from our doorsteps. It’s a strong reminder that we must remain vigilant in protecting our shared lands and waters.

  • Ensuring Transparency with our Hard-Earned Tax Dollars
    Transparency with our public resources and investing in quality education are bedrock Wisconsin values that reflect both our shared heritage and vision.

    I’m grateful to see local school districts fighting for these values and standing in support of a bill that would ensure our neighbors know how much of their hard-earned tax money is being siphoned away to private voucher schools.

    Citizens have the right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, and I am proud to be one of the lead authors of this ‘Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill.’

    As Superintendent Gunderson was quoted in this article, "A large majority of the children taking the vouchers were children already attending private education. So you're not literally providing choice, what you're doing is paying for people who already choose a different education for their children.”

Events in the Community - Labor Day! 
Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.

The United Nations Association of Greater Milwaukee Presents "Diplomacy is the Pathway to Peace in North Korea"
Saturday, September 9 from 10 a.m. to Noon 
Join for an urgent and timely discussion with the some of the best international luminaries in town!  Our speaker will be Professor Nan Kim, Associate Professor of History at UWM and expert on Korea and the effects of the partition on its families. We will also hear from PyungAhn Kim, "Pastor Peace," Associate Pastor of the Whitefish Bay United Methodist Church. He will speak on what the church is doing for nuclear disarmament and for peace on the Korean peninsula.

Celebrate Labor Day in our Community
Annually, we celebrate our hard-working Wisconsinites and the Labor Day holiday with family-friendly neighborhood festivals. Join me in our community this Labor Day weekend as we celebrate Wisconsin's current workforce, as well as those that came before us and fought for better workplace rights for all. See a list of local Labor Day events below.

Oak Creek Lions Labor Day Festival

September 1 through September 4
Attend this annual event and enjoy music, food, rides, and fun and games for all ages at the 53rd annual Oak Creek Lionsfest. Indoor and outdoor stages will feature live music from over 20 bands all weekend long, including the Almighty Vinyl, The Crisis, and Jackie Brown Trio. 


September 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Watch the annual Labor Day parade that starts at Zeidler Union Square Park at 11 a.m. and works its way to Henry Maier Festival Park. Once at Summerfest, enjoy a free festival that includes music, Bingo, vintage cars, a children's area and much more. Local vendors will also be selling food and drinks throughout the afternoon. 

St. Francis Days
September 1 through September 3
This annual four-day music festival is free and open to the public. Visitors should expect to see live musical entertainment, a movie showing, helicopter rides, chicken and rib dinners, and a parade. 

St. Martins Fair

September 3 and 4
Vendors at this fair sell an assortment of merchandise including clothing, shoes, hardware and household items, paper products, pet supplies, cleaning supplies, sporting equipment, gift items, dried flowers and arrangements, furniture, antiques, shrubs, flowers, fruits and vegetables, prepared food, and other miscellaneous merchandise. Special music groups also entertain the crowd throughout the Labor Day weekend event. This event takes place on St. Martins Road from the intersection of W. Forest Home Avenue to W. Church.

Howard Village Community Days 
Thursday, September 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
Howard Village invites you to join in a celebration of all things American at the Howard Village Community Days event, which is is free to attend. Highlights of the event include a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Art Display, a Parade of Bikes, and a special presentation by local VFW 2986.