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Legislatively Speaking

Lena C. Taylor

With just 57 days into the New Year, the nation is already creeping up on an ugly reality. Mass shootings have become a way of life in this country. We have become accustomed to having our day interrupted with “Breaking News” stories about yet another tragic shooting. We offer our prayers, question what happened and resolve to do better.

Like everyone else, I sat in disbelief as a learned about the horror that recently unfolded at Milwaukee’s Molson Coors facility. Waiting to learn the fate of those involved, my thoughts raced to my mother who lives within a stone’s throw of the plant. I confirmed that she was fine but knew that there were other families who would wait hours to receive word about their loved ones. Neighboring schools were placed on lockdown and terrified parents worried what their children understood about what was unfolding outside the windows of their schools. From the first responders to the teachers in the classrooms, we all understood that we were in a horrible situation.

We are waiting for the investigations that may yield the “why.” We are also waiting on state legislators to do something to address gun violence and responsible gun ownership. However, the uncomfortable truth is that they will do nothing. To be clear, this is not every legislator. But there is a sizeable majority of Republican legislators sitting in state houses and gathered in the nation’s capital, that are unwilling to do the hard work on gun violence.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers called for a special session in November 2019 to take up universal background checks and what is known as a “red flag” bill. I am the Senate author of one of the bills and I must admit it was hard to watch state Republicans basically ignore the calls for the session. It is even more difficult to know that just hours before the Molson Coors shooting, Evers again called for the Legislature to consider the bills introduced in the special session.

Listening to the details of the shooting, many of us asked was this preventable? Were there warning signs? For now, we mourn the loss of life, support our neighbors and their families, and work to get through this difficult time. Eventually, we will have to deal with the uncomfortable truth. Since 2004, the Molson Coors shooting was at the 11th mass shooting in Wisconsin. Our workers, students and children are left to hide under desks, and lock themselves in closets and offices, while Republicans keep their heads in the sand.

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