Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he will not hold a vote on gun-control legislation during the special session on the topic ordered this week by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Tuesday he has not yet discussed the matter with his fellow Republicans but said he expects to adjourn the Nov. 7 special session immediately after calling it to order.
“The support is not there to tackle those two issues,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday following a committee meeting.
At a Monday press event in Milwaukee, Evers called for a special session to vote on bills that would require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in Wisconsin and implement so-called red-flag laws, under which people deemed to be threats by a court must surrender their firearms.
Evers said Monday he wanted Republicans to work with Democrats on the “common sense” legislation. He also said an up or down vote was necessary so the public could know where lawmakers stand.
A recent Marquette Law School Poll found 80% of Wisconsinites support expanded background checks — including nearly 70% of gun owners.
“We need more than thoughts and prayers to end gun violence,” Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said in a Tuesday statement. “It is unacceptable for Republicans in the Legislature to refuse to do their job. How many more sons, daughters, mothers and fathers need to be lost to senseless gun violence before this Legislature will act?”
Fitzgerald said Tuesday the bills amounted to political posturing by the governor.
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“It’s just not going to happen,” he said.
Fitzgerald said he has not yet spoken with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on the matter.
In a Monday statement, Vos said he would not entertain proposals that, in his opinion, infringe on constitutional rights.
“A special session call will not change where my Assembly Republican colleagues and I stand on protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of Wisconsin citizens,” Vos said in a statement.
Katie Iliff, executive director of the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee, accused Republican leadership of choosing special interests over the wishes of the majority of Wisconsinites.
“It is shameful that almost immediately after the call for legislative action through a special session, Republican leadership was quick to oppose the wishes of the people,” Iliff said in a statement. “The time is now for Republicans to show political courage on behalf of the people of Wisconsin and stop carrying water for special-interest groups like the NRA who help fill their campaign coffers.”
In a study released Monday, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks campaign financing, found the National Rifle Association spent nearly $5.5 million to support GOP and conservative candidates over the last 20 years.
While about $4.4 million of that was spent in support of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the remainder went to more than 40 Republican lawmakers, candidates or committees, including Vos and Fitzgerald, who each received about $1,800 in direct contributions or outside election support, according to WDC.
“Vos, Fitzgerald and the whole Republican caucus are in hock to the NRA, lock, stock and barrel,” WDC executive director Matt Rothschild said in an email.