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PRESS CONFERENCE (copy)

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison

A group of gun control supporters including lawmakers, faith leaders and victim advocates called on Wisconsin legislators to pass stricter firearm regulations Thursday, ahead of National Gun Violence Awareness Day

At the state Capitol, three Democratic state legislators were joined by representatives from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort and Kids Forward in a news conference calling for gun regulations including implementing universal background checks, reinstating the state's 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases and limiting access to firearms for people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions.

"We have got to start addressing the root causes of violence in this state, and that means real policy changes that make it harder for people to get firearms, not easier," said Chase Tarrier, public policy coordinator with End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. 

Tarrier pointed to statistics that show guns are the most commonly used weapons in domestic violence killings, and that the presence of a firearm in an abusive household significantly increases a woman's chances of being killed.

Tarrier urged lawmakers to support expanding background checks, bringing back a handgun purchase waiting period and banning firearm purchases by those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions.

"So many of these deaths are preventable," Tarrier said.

Jean Papalia, a suicide prevention trainer, argued that tighter gun control measures could also reduce deaths by suicide.

A recent study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that 72 percent of the state's gun deaths are suicides, up from the national average of 60 percent. The rate of gun suicides was highest among white men ages 45 and up, primarily in rural areas. 

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Papalia called for legislators to allow for lethal violence protection orders, a process by which a family member or law enforcement officer may seek a temporary injunction to prevent a person from possessing or purchasing a firearm if the person is believed to be a danger to themselves or another person.

"It is well past time for (legislators) to stand up for common sense gun safety measures," said Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison. 

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a set of school safety measures in response to a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, but declined to take up any gun control measures proposed by Democrats. The Assembly approved a measure to expand the number of data sources consulted in background checks for rifle and shotgun purchases, but the legislation did not clear the Senate. 

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.