Attorney General Candidates Have Different Takes On Addressing Gun Violence

Susan Happ Supports Universal Background Checks, While Brad Schimel Does Not

Assault rifles on display at a gun store. Photo: Keary O. (CC-BY-NC-SA).

The two candidates running for state attorney general disagree on the role the office should play in reducing gun violence in Wisconsin.

So far this year, there have been about two gun homicides per week in the state, most of them in Milwaukee. The Democrat candidate for attorney general, Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, said that to reduce the number of murders, she supports a proposal from Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn to beef up the penalties for repeat violent offenders who use guns.

Republican candidate Waukesha D.A. Brad Schimel also backs tougher sentences for criminals with guns, but he disagrees with Happ’s positive stance on universal background checks for all gun sales.

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“(It’s) not going to be productive in dealing with gun violence, because a law-abiding gun owner will have more road blocks to exercising their right,” said Schimel. “But the person who is planning to commit a crime with a gun, they don’t care. They’re not worried about whether they bought a gun legally.”

Happ said that polls indicate the general public supports universal background checks.

“The majority of Wisconsin citizens believe that we need to have background checks; that’s about keeping the guns out of the hands of those that shouldn’t have guns,” said Happ. “Law-abiding citizens can have access to guns. We would to keep guns out of the hands of felons, people with restraining orders and the mentally ill.”

Both Happ and Schimel say they’d support raising taxes to put more police on the streets in Milwaukee to prevent gun homicides. Schimel, however, said that in the long run there’s little the attorney general or the police can do to affect the social forces he says are driving gun violence. He said that those include the dropout rate in Milwaukee high schools and the birth rate among teen age mothers.