APTOPIX School Shooting Florida (copy)

People attend a candlelight vigil Thursday for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School the day before in Parkland, Fla.

Today, we, the 80% Coalition, consisting of organizations in advocacy, business, education, faith, health care, social services and more, call for the immediate passage of meaningful legislation to reform our existing firearm laws.

We are tired of watching our fellow Americans become victims of gun violence. We are heartbroken from the stories. We have seen images of six-year-old Stephen Romero killed in Gilroy, California. We have heard the story of the young mom and dad in El Paso, Texas, who together, shielding their two-month-old baby, were both killed by the same bullet, leaving their child parentless. These stories remind us of the tragedies we suffered in Oak Creek and Brookfield.

The fear across Wisconsin is real. For the first time in history, many Wisconsin parents added bulletproof backpacks to their school supply lists for their school-age children. Clergy now regularly instruct congregants to look for the nearest exit upon entering houses of worship, and children regularly participate in lockdown drills at school.

But there are commonsense measures we can take to stem the violence. And with overwhelming public support, we look to our elected representatives to take real steps to save Wisconsin lives.

Background checks work. To date, over 3.5 million sales of firearms have been blocked by background checks. Sadly, current law only requires background checks on sales conducted by a licensed dealer. This legislative loophole allows convicted violent felons and domestic abusers to purchase the weapons they are prohibited from purchasing and possessing, either online, at a gun a show or in person from a private seller. This “no background check market” has turned into a booming business. In 2018 alone, one website ran over 1.2 million online ads for firearm sales that did not require background checks.

Not only is reform needed to stem domestic terror and crime, but to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, 664 people in Wisconsin were killed with firearms. That includes 455 individuals who took their own lives. Access to a gun increases the risk of suicide threefold.

While our state is deeply divided on many issues, common sense reform to our gun laws is not one of them. In the August 2019 Marquette University Law School Poll, 80% of Wisconsin voters favored closing the background check loophole and “making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks.” Even more telling, 75% of households with a firearm, and 88% of households without firearms agreed this reform was needed with the majority agreeing that “it would reduce the number of mass shootings.”

For the safety of our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, we urge our elected representatives to put the lives of Wisconsinites before the interests of special interest groups, and immediately pass the following:

• Legislation that extends the current background check requirement to include any sale or transfer of firearms at a gun shows, online or from an individual in a private sale.

• Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation that allows law enforcement or a family member to petition the court if they believe an individual with a firearm is a danger to themselves and/or to others and if the threat is found to be credible, empower law enforcement to retrieve the firearm(s) until the threat is no longer.

• A resolution condemning domestic terrorism.

Wisconsinites can do anything when we come together, and on this issue we have. Now we expect our elected officials to do the same.

The 80% Coalition includes Advanced Wireless, Inc., the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Brady: United Against Gun Violence, the Community Coalition for Quality Policing, Crusaders of Justicia, Doctors for America, the Rt. Rev. Steven Andrew Miller (Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee), the Felmers Chaney Advocacy Board, the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Forward Latino, the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Hours Against Hate, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, JCRC-Milwaukee Jewish Federation, the League of United Latin American Citizens Wisconsin, March for Our Lives MKE, March For Our Lives Wisconsin, Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition, NAACP: Milwaukee Branch, the Wisconsin State NAACP Conference of Branches, NAMI Dane County, NAMI Wisconsin, Serve 2 Unite, UMOS and the Wisconsin Anti Violence Effort (WAVE).

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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