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Evers, Walker Differ On Possible Changes To Wisconsin Gun Laws

Evers Supports Universal Background Checks, Walker Mum On The Issue

Tony Evers
Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

As debate over gun laws continues across the country, gubernatorial candidate Democrat Tony Evers said Monday he supports Wisconsin’s concealed carry law.

Evers weighed in on the measure during a campaign stop on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. His remarks come amid another resurgence in conversation about gun laws following the shooting death of 11 people Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“I think it’s working now,” Evers said of the law.

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Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican incumbent in the Tuesday, Nov. 6 gubernatorial election, signed Wisconsin’s concealed carry law in 2011. It allows individuals to carry a concealed weapon in approved locations as long as they have a permit.

Evers said he would consider adding to requirements for the license, but didn’t offer any specifics.

“I just want to make sure that the requirements are adequate,” Evers said.

Under current law, permit applicants must be at least 21 years old, not be prohibited from owning a firearm under state or federal laws, and have proof of a completed firearms training course.

Walker has touted the concealed carry law as a way to “advance the rights of law-abiding citizens.” He declined in 2017 to weigh in on a proposal that would have allowed concealed carry without a permit in Wisconsin. The bill did not pass.

When asked about additional gun-related legislation, Evers said he supports instituting universal background checks for gun sales in Wisconsin.

“I think we have to be pragmatic here, we have to start someplace,” Evers said. “We’ve had young people all across the country, people in high schools, saying, ‘Enough is enough, the adults have to stand up and do something.’”

Universal background checks would expand current state requirements to include checks at gun shows and during private sales by unlicensed dealers. According to recent polls, a majority of Wisconsin residents support the change.

A Democrat-backed proposal to institute universal background checks in the state was defeated in the Legislature earlier this year after Republicans changed the bill to instead authorize funding for school safety initiatives and increase penalties for so-called “straw buyers,” people who purchase guns for people legally barred from owning them.

In response to a question about universal background checks on Monday, Walker said the focus should be on enforcing laws currently on the books.

“Right now, we have some of the strongest laws in the country,” Walker said.