March 15, 1995
Madison Mayors of the state's two biggest cities and Atty. Gen. James E. Doyle joined national anti-gun activist James Brady Tuesday to denounce two legislative proposals they say would dangerously weaken Wisconsin gun laws.
"We'd have more cops in Wisconsin killed. That would be the price paid for this bill," Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist said of a proposal made by Sen. David A. Zien (R-Eau Claire) that would allow people to carry concealed weapons.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, who also took part in the Capitol news conference, called Zien's proposal the "Wild West bill," referring to the days when nearly everyone packed a pistol.
Encouraging people to carry guns would only increase gun violence, he said.
The mayors and Doyle were even more critical of a proposal that would prohibit any city or county from enacting local gun regulations that are more restrictive than state law.
Under this so-called "pre-emptive law," Madison's prohibition on the sale of handguns and possession of barbed bullets would be struck down, as would Milwaukee's seven-day waiting period for handgun purchases.
Other cities around the state also would be affected by the measure.
"These pre-emptive efforts are very insulting to the people who live in these communities," Norquist said of the bill introduced by Rep. John P. Dobyns (R-Fond du Lac).
Brady, who was critically injured in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan when he was Reagan's press secretary, called the pre-emptive bill "totally arrogant."
Local solutions are the best solutions to local problems, he said, and the state must not tie the hands of local officials.
Brady, who with his wife, Sarah, founded an organization called Handgun Control to lobby states for gun regulation, said the pre-emptive bill and the concealed weapon bill are being pushed in states all across the country by the National Rifle Association.
Doyle noted that the same two measures have been proposed in Illinois.
"This is the national agenda of the NRA," he said.
Brady said he was optimistic that the two bills will not be approved in Wisconsin because "the people are not stupid."
"Wisconsin will not make this mistake," he said.
Rep. Peter E. Bock (D-Milwaukee), a strong supporter of gun regulation, said he did not know whether either of the bills has a chance of being approved by the Legislature.
While legislators are preoccupied with the state budget, it is too early to determine whether either of the bills has much support.
In discussing his proposal last week, Zien said violent crime has decreased in communities that have enacted laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons.
But a new study released Monday by the University of Maryland found that more people were killed by guns in four of five urban areas after laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons were enacted.
Average monthly gun homicides increased 74% in Jacksonville, Fla.; 43% in Jackson, Miss.; 22% in Tampa, Fla.; and 3% in Miami, Fla.
In Portland, Ore., the other community studied, gun homicides declined 12%, the study said.