Baldwin praises Trump’s call for bump stock ban, other gun safety measures

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin at a luncheon in Madison Thursday lauded President Trump for pushing gun safety measures, including a ban on bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to rapidly fire dozens of rounds.

But she urged the president to go further by calling on Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up gun safety legislation in their respective chambers.

“[Trump] opened the door for comprehensive background checks, he opened the door for re-examining the age at which you can purchase a semi-automatic weapon, and he opened the door for legislation to ban bump stocks,” Baldwin said. “That’s not something we see very often.”

Trump on Thursday tweeted that he would support universal background checks with an emphasis on mental health, raise the age of purchasing some weapons to 21, and ban the sale of bump stocks.

But Baldwin broke with Trump on any measure that would arm teachers or other school staff as a safety measure. She argued teachers are there to educate instead of police schools, and that teachers with weapons could be mistaken as a gunman by emergency responders.

“The first thing that the SWAT team looks for is an armed person in the classroom when they’re responding to a situation like that,” Baldwin said. “You could have catastrophic, unintended consequences.”

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would provide grants to schools for armed public safety officers.

Baldwin backed universal background checks, arguing they are a “common-sense” measure that nearly everyone could get behind, and praised the teenagers currently calling on Congress for meaningful gun-control measures.

“These teens, these children, are organizing in a way that I haven’t seen before. And I think we’re just seeing the start of it,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said she’d rather see Kimberly-Clark scale back its stock buybacks to save 600 Neenah-area factory jobs instead of taking the tax incentives outlined in a bill that later Thursday passed the Assembly.

Baldwin, who had met with workers from the Neenah-area facilities earlier in the month, argued that their employer is already set to benefit from the federal tax bill.

“My suggestion to Governor Walker and the state Legislature is just ask Kimberly Clark to only do $800 million in stock buybacks, rather than this $100 million tax incentive,” she said.

The company in January announced $900 million in stock buybacks last year.

The bill Assembly bill would increase tax credits for job retention to 17 percent of the paper manufacturer’s payroll, up from the current 7 percent. Under the bill, Kimberly-Clark would also get refundable tax credits for 15 percent of capital expenditures — up from the standard 10 percent — over a five-year period, as well as a five-year sales tax exemption on those capital expenditures.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir, who is running for the GOP nomination to challenge Baldwin, was part of the Madison luncheon audience and asked Baldwin to justify her vote against the Republican tax cut bill.

Baldwin said the bill provides most benefits to the wealthy, corporations and the “1 percent” rather than average Americans.

“Let’s start with the Kimberly Clark workers, who are certainly going to appreciate the tax benefits that they receive of this bill, but do not appreciate the pink slip that they may get,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin further questioned why the tax bill did not make individual cuts permanent for working families.

Afterward, Vukmir told reporters that she attended the luncheon because she was interested in hearing Baldwin’s responses regarding the Tomah VA, healthcare and the GOP tax bill. She also joked that she’ll be able to tell Wisconsinites that Baldwin had visited the state.

“I guess most people feel she hasn’t been in the state, so I can actually say there was a sighting of Tammy Baldwin and I was there to prove it,” she said.

During the luncheon, Baldwin said she recently met with workers at Kimberly-Clark factories near Neenah. Her campaign announced that she was in Beloit earlier Thursday meeting with leadership and employees of Fairbanks Morse Engine.

See more from the luncheon in the Friday REPORT.