Gun control debate heats up in Wisconsin, nationally

SUAMICO — The debate over gun rights rages on as those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are laid to rest.

In Michigan Tuesday, Republican Governor Rick Snyder vetoed legislation allowing the concealment of weapons in churches, schools and daycares.

In a release Tuesday, Snyder said public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms "if they see fit to do so." The governor's opposition to the bill intensified with the Connecticut shootings.

The legislation would have prohibited openly carrying guns in those places while allowing permit holders to carry concealed weapons. But they couldn't if the locations declare themselves weapons-free zones.

Existing Michigan law says people may openly carry guns in those and other locations but carrying concealed weapons on those premises is illegal.

Here in Wisconsin – Governor Scott Walker says there are no perfect solutions to preventing tragedies like last week's shooting; adding it will take weeks to find out what led to the killings.

He believes any politician that is calling for immediate change is jumping to conclusions.

Walker does say treating people with mental health issues at an early age and citizens having access to community-based care are things that need to be addressed.

Other legislative leaders in the state and across the nation are saying that easy access to powerful weapons needs to be reconsidered.

In Milwaukee Tuesday, Democratic State Representative Fred Kessler says he plans to introduce legislation banning hollow-point bullets and automatic rifles.

"Those types of weapons are so dangerous and so, cause so much injury that I can't believe that anybody would use them," said Kessler, D-Milwaukee.

His proposal would also require people who want a concealed carry license in the state to undergo a mental health evaluation.

On the national level, Democrats plan on introducing legislation next year reinstating an assault weapons ban on new weapons and large clips.

“This is the straw that breaks the camel's back,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “People have to respond. They have to understand that the rights of the many to remain safe are more important than any right you may think you have to have a military-style assault weapon."

Even long-time Democratic gun-rights supporters are calling for change.

"You know, who would have ever thought that in America, or anywhere in the world that children would be slaughtered,” said Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia. “You know that – it's changed me."

But Texas Governor Rick Perry says these reactions are knee-jerk.

He says teachers and administrators should be allowed to carry weapons on campus, as long as they have the proper training.

"With our concealed handgun license, if you go through the process and you have been duly backgrounded and trained and you are a concealed handgun licensed-carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state."

One national retailer is making changes because of the shooting – at least temporarily.

Dick's Sporting Goods suspended the sales of modern rifles at all its stores, during this mourning period. The suspension includes stores here in Northeast Wisconsin.

Our calls to Dick's were not returned and local stores referred FOX 11 back to the corporate headquarters.

A statement on the store's website says:

“We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to the entire community. Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide. We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by this terrible tragedy.”

But concerns about more restrictive gun control laws possibly coming down the legislative pipe has some concerned.

At Gus's Guns in Suamico, employee Kyle Engels say people are calling, inquiring if he has any semi-automatic rifles left.

"Very little availability,” said Engels of what customers are seeing on the market. “They're very hard to get right now, because everyone's trying to purchase one. People worried about them being banned; same thing with the ammunition."

The nation's largest gun-rights organization – the National Rifle Association – released a statement Tuesday about the Connecticut shootings.

The organization says it is shocked and saddened by the deaths. The NRA also says it is willing to help make sure this never happens again and will hold a news conference this Friday in the Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
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