Anniversary of Middleton shooting brings gun violence conversation

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting at WTS Paradigm in Middleton, which is sparking conversation on gun law reform.

Three people were shot inside the software company when an employee opened fire.

Thursday morning, Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic lawmakers introduced a “red flag” bill that would allow judges to seize guns from someone determined by a judge to be a threat to themselves or others. They’re also calling for expanding background checks.

“Inaction, it costs too much,” state Sen. Lena Taylor said at the press conference.

State Republicans are expressing concerns, including that the bill infringes upon Second Amendment rights.

“I’d rather get at the heart of this and do this right,” Republican state Rep. Barbara Dittrich said.

Legislators aren’t the only players in the discussion.

“All of us as peace officers took an oath that we would protect our communities, and me advocating for common-sense gun laws is a good way for me to advocate for the safety of my community,” Middleton Police Chief Chuck Foulke said.

The Middleton gunman’s concealed carry permit was revoked more than a decade before last year’s shooting, but he got past background check laws by legally purchasing gun parts online and assembling his own gun, according to officials.

“They call that building a ghost gun, when you buy parts over the internet,” Foulke said. “It’s a loophole.”

Whether it be closing loop holes that allow people to avoid background checks or implementing red flag laws, Foulke and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney want lawmakers to make their jobs keeping people safe easier.

“We as a nation need to say enough is enough and remove the Second Amendment argument, because it is not a Second Amendment issue, it’s about public safety,” Mahoney said.

“Obviously as a licensed dealer, we’d rather have everyone come buy it here,” Brett Fankhouser said.

As manager at Deerfield Pistol & Archery Center, Fankhauser has a seat at the table, too.

“We do sell guns,” he said. “They can be used for atrocities, but for the most part, they’re not.”

Fankhauser said red flag laws are a double-edged sword.

“As much as I hate to have guns in the hands of the wrong people, it’s a slippery slope you slide on when you start going out the public and taking away rights,” he said.

Fankhauser isn’t sure what could have stopped the Middleton shooting.

“Somehow, you have to figure out people, and that’s not an easy thing to do,” he said.

Lawmakers are still searching for common ground on how to prevent a future shooting.

“This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue,” Taylor said. “It’s a human life issue.”

“We’ve got to find ways to come together on how to solve it,” Dittrich said.

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