Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Violent crime in Wisconsin has gone up following deregulation of gun laws

Reasonable gun legislation won't ever be passed with Scott Walker in office

Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Gun violence affects us all, even if some of us don’t readily admit it. When there’s a spike in violence, it hits a community both personally and psychologically.

The cycle seems endless: after one act of violence occurs, another seems to inevitably pop up before we’re able to even start grieving for the first loss.

It doesn’t have to be that way -- and it doesn’t have to be pro-gun vs. pro-regulation, either. Both sides can contribute to lower rates of violence.

For those in support of expanding regulation for gun laws, the mission is pretty self explanatory. We need comprehensive reform to limit the number of weapons that show up in offenders’ hands. That includes instituting waiting periods, requiring background checks for all purchases, and pushing for an assault weapons ban on certain guns that are quite literally overkill.

But gun rights advocates need to be included in the conversation on gun violence, too. Their contribution isn’t just desired, but practical for their own ends -- it behooves them to be involved in helping lower violence in our communities, encouraging owners to lock up their weapons around children, taking classes on how to properly handle a gun in the home, and how to handle situations where they may have to use their weapon (and how to use restraint when they don’t).

Don't get me wrong, though: I stand steadfast in my opinion that we need tighter gun laws, in this state and elsewhere.

In Wisconsin, the violent crime rate has risen in recent years. This lines up with the loosening of gun laws under Gov. Scott Walker’s tenure.

On the other hand, when the Brady Bill was passed at the national level, state crime rates went down significantly. They went up again following the expiration of that law.

This doesn’t prove that restrictive gun laws lower crime rates -- more research is necessary before any conclusions can be drawn. It does suggest that we should look into that possibility, that, for all the naysayers who say otherwise, we should at least consider that tighter gun laws and closing loopholes allowing offenders the chance to get weapons are worth trying.

At the very least it demonstrates that Walker was wrong on a very strongly worded statement he said when he signed concealed carry into law:
By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.
The evidence says otherwise: Wisconsin saw higher crime rates in the two years after the law was signed, and a higher rate of gun-related murders overall.

But instead of retreating on gun deregulation, lawmakers in Wisconsin are doubling-down on it. They’re passing legislation that ends waiting period for guns, based on flimsy anecdotal evidence that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

We will never achieve any decent and common-sense gun legislation with Scott Walker and his legislative allies in power. They are clearly beholden to the gun lobby.

We need to find a way to change things in our state, for the better, before they get worse.

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