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Rep. Chris Taylor

Coalition calls for more robust legislative action

MADISON – Last week, Governor Scott Walker called for a special session of the Wisconsin State Legislature on school safety. The Governor’s proposal leaves out important, evidence-based safety measures, such as universal background checks, lethal violence protection orders, and waiting periods. Additionally, the proposal directs funding towards facility upgrades rather than comprehensive behavioral and social health programs requested by schools.

“The burden of keeping our children safe from gun violence should not fall solely on our schools,” said Anneliese Dickman, Communications Director for the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort. “We must strengthen our gun laws – easy access to guns has endangered our children at school, at home, and at play for far too long. We stand with the youth to say ‘Enough is enough.’”

“If you knew that a piece of legislation could possibly prevent the next mass shooting, workplace murder, act of domestic violence, or over 70 suicides in a decade, wouldn’t you do everything you could to rush that bill through?” said Marc Herstand, Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, Wisconsin Chapter. “That’s the potential impact of the Lethal Violence Protection Act, which allows for law enforcement officials and family members to act on warning signs.”

In addition to the Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety, groups of educators, school administration officials, law enforcement officials, disability advocacy groups, and students have all called for a comprehensive, holistic approach to making our schools and communities safer places. The Governor’s proposal ignores these cries as well as the cries of thousands of students who marched to the Capitol or walked out of their classrooms last week.

“Gun violence causes spiritual, as well as physical damage,” said the Reverend Kerri Parker, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches. “Our failure to act on this issue has left our children to deal with the constant threat of gun violence, and its consequences. It has shaped this generation in ways we are only beginning to see. They are our children, but painful experience has given them the moral authority to lead. With the courage of nonviolent social witness, they have called us to action. They have asked us to make it more difficult to get access to firearms. They are telling us what is needed. We need only the courage to respond in kind.”

“Unlike Governor Walker, who just recently acknowledged the need to address school safety, many of us have been working for many sessions to make our communities and schools safer through common sense gun safety measures like universal background checks,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison). “The epidemic of gun violence is not inevitable. Though we can’t save the children murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, we can save the children sitting in their classrooms today.”

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