Just two months after retreating from a sweeping proposal that would have banned popular hunting rifles, shotguns and numerous handguns, a pair of Wisconsin Democrats are pushing a revised gun control plan. Under legislation circulated for co-sponsorship by state Representatives Terese Berceau and Melissa Sargent, any local government in Wisconsin would be free to prohibit gun ownership within its borders, impose a special gun tax, or prevent the sale or transfer of firearms between residents.
Echoing claims by national Democrats that gun violence is now a “public health epidemic” the Democrats argue that, “In Wisconsin we put trust in our locally elected officials to make the right decisions for our communities. Allowing communities to set their own rules when it comes to gun safety is a smart way to protect our families.”
The co-sponsorship memo describing the legislation and distributed to lawmakers in an effort to drum up support for the bill declares, “Wisconsin should not mandate the concealed carry blankly across the state.”
Put another way: We want to end concealed carry through local restrictions.
According to the state government’s non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau:
“This bill eliminates the prohibition against a political subdivision regulating the sale, purchase, delay, transfer, possession, or taxation of any firearm in a manner that is more stringent than a state statute. This bill specifies that a political subdivision may enact an ordinance or adopt a resolution that is more stringent than a state statute to regulate such activities relating to firearms.”
Berceau and Sargent are also pushing an Assembly resolution that would create “a task force on gun safety technology” that would ” study and recommend ways to implement and promote gun safety technology, ‘smart gun’ technology, and gun personalization technology in Wisconsin.”
Citing finger-print lock/unlock features on smartphones and other digital devices, the Democratic lawmakers suggest that the state should consider requiring all guns have an electronic lock that allows only the owner to use the weapon. The plan closely mirrors the musings of President Barack Obama, who last week directed the federal government to ” conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology” particularly “the availability of smart gun technology”.
Since Republicans took control of state government after the 2010 election, common-sense reforms to Wisconsin gun laws have drawn heavy ire and criticism from Democrats. In 2011, the state became the 49th in the country to allow for the concealed carry of a firearm. Information about how to obtain training and a concealed carry permit may be found on the Wisconsin Department of Justice website.
How many localities would actually seek to ban guns if the Democrats’ plan became law is not possible to know. Risk averse local officials who normally face fairly quiet elections could find themselves in the center of a political storm if they chose to limit the 2nd Amendment rights of residents of their municipality.
Prime suspects for using the law would be the City of Milwaukee, City of Madison, and City of Racine, all three of which have mayors who were members of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Democrats have yet to circulate a plan allowing local governments to curtail the free speech rights of Wisconsin citizens under the theory that local governments must have the opportunity to censor unpleasant or unwanted speech.
With Republicans still in control of state government in Wisconsin, the likelihood of the legislation becoming law is approximately zero. Just why Democrats, who face a tough but not impossible battle to capture control of the state Senate, want to introduce gun control into the political debate at this point in a heavy pro-gun state is unclear. As Democrats in Virginia and elsewhere have learned, a good way to earn a shellacking at the ballot box is to threaten people’s guns.
PDF copies of the proposals are posted at MediaTrackers.org, where this story originally appeared.