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A few hours before a gunman killed five people at Milwaukee’s Molson Coors Brewery campus Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers pleaded with Republican legislators in his state to at least talk about gun control.
"All I want is a discussion," Evers, a Democrat, said at an event hours before the shooting, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We had (two) really commonsense solutions on the table that they wouldn’t even talk about. And that’s the frustration I have about politics these days."
Evers’ proposed solutions included an expansion of background checks and a so-called “red flag” law to make it easier to temporarily remove guns from people considered to be dangerous to themselves or others. The state’s senate majority leader, Republican Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, however, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Wednesday that many people in the state were satisfied with current gun control laws. He’s opposed both measures in the past.
"We’re going to have that discussion about the Second Amendment forever," Fitzgerald said.
He later said in a statement that the shooting was an “act of evil.” He has not yet commented on whether his stance on gun control differs after the killings.
“My heart goes out to the victims and their families as we continue to monitor the developments,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “I’m thankful for law enforcement and emergency response personnel on the scene working tirelessly.”
The 51-year-old gunman, who died after turning a gun on himself, was reportedly carrying two handguns — one with a silencer — although police haven’t revealed what model or how he obtained them. (Silencers or suppressors are legal in Wisconsin but have to be properly registered.)
The shooter was an employee of the brewery, as were all the deceased, although their names haven’t been released by local authorities. More than 1,000 people work on the brewery campus.
Since the shooting, a slew of Democratic presidential candidates and Wisconsin state party officials have called for greater gun control.
“Another senseless American tragedy,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said Wednesday. “One that shouldn’t have to happen, and unfortunately it’s in our backyard.”
In November, Evers called legislators into a special session to discuss both proposed gun control laws, though Republicans didn’t bite over fears that the legislation would erode Second Amendment rights. The special session was immediately adjourned without debate. Republicans in the state have been more interested in bipartisan measures to address mental health and school safety issues, according to the Journal-Sentinel.
"I don't think these bills solve the issue of gun violence, there are many other things that play into that, including mental illness," Fitzgerald told Wisconsin Public Radio in November. He convened the Senate session and adjourned it in less than a minute.
Cover: On Thursday Feb. 6, 2020 Gov. Tony Evers held a press conference to sign an executive order for a special session which called for the Republican-controlled Legislature to spend $250 million of a state budget surplus on public schools. (Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)