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John Nichols: A new legislator is ready to tackle gun violence

John Nichols: A new legislator is ready to tackle gun violence

New members of the Legislature often have the clearest perspective on how it should operate. That’s clearly the case with state Rep. Robyn Vining, a Democrat who was elected last year to represent Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Milwaukee.

In the wake of the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Vining reminded her colleagues and constituents, “The succession of mass shootings across our nation can be abated through legislative action.”

The 42-year-old legislative newcomer, who has a background as a pastor and a leader of nonprofit groups, wants to act. Now. She’s ready to pass violence prevention legislation that would establish ERPOs (Extreme Risk Protection Orders), universal background checks, and a 48-hour waiting period for firearm purchases.

“ERPOs, universal background checks, and 48-hour waiting periods are data-driven solutions to the gun violence epidemic that have bipartisan support across the country,” the representative explained. “These bills have proven to be effective in preventing shootings and suicides in other states that have passed similar laws. The legislation is carefully written to include strong due process protections that will not impede on responsible gun ownership.”

Vining is not naive. She knows that Republicans control the Legislature, and that they are disinclined to act. But she is not prepared to take "no" for an answer. At a time when it is easy to get frustrated, Vining brings to the debate a refreshing sense of urgency, and possibility.

“I’m ready,” she said. “Let’s get this done.” 

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. and @NicholsUprising. 

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