MADISON, Wis. - Senate and Assembly Republicans chose to gavel in and gavel out during special sessions held at the Wisconsin State Capitol Thursday night.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers demanded Republican legislators to vote on a pair of bills restricting firearm ownership.
Evers in October ordered a special legislative session on gun control to begin Tuesday afternoon. He wanted them to vote on bills mandating universal background checks and allowing family members or police to ask judges to temporarily seize firearms from people who pose a threat.
.@GovEvers sends a letter to @SpeakerVos and @SenFitzgerald about today's special session on gun control telling them they're ignoring the will of 80 percent of the state: "I urge you to meet in a special session, take this vote, and let the vote speak for itself." #news3now pic.twitter.com/vaJPfhIcCj— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) November 7, 2019
Republican leaders said they would not even consider the bills. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald gaveled in and gaveled out seconds later, ending the session.
And that's the special session in the senate pic.twitter.com/uDoNBwQCfD— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) November 8, 2019
Evers sent Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos a letter Thursday morning blasting them for "ignoring the will of the people" and demanding they vote on the proposals. He said Wisconsin residents deserve to know where their legislators stand on the bills.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos accused Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of "playing politics" by calling a special session on gun control.
The Assembly did not debate or vote on the bills Thursday in the special session. Vos followed the same move as Fitzgerald, gaveling in and out to quickly adjourn the session.
Vos said there was no need to debate the bills because he knew they would not pass. He also said there was plenty of discussion during the scheduled session, which included a number of bills addressing suicide prevention. During discussion on those bills, Democrats called for more gun control.
Vos said instead of more background check laws or red flag laws, the state needs to look at enforcing the laws it does have.
"We could focus on locking up criminals," he said. "We could focus on people who already fail an existing background check, and we don't prosecute them. I mean there's a lot of things we could focus on that would bring us together instead of driving us apart."
Democrats said Republicans should pass universal background checks and a "red flag" law in part because polls show broad public support.
Vos said Republicans won't support the bills because they infringe upon Second Amendment gun rights.
Evers responded to the special session in a personal statement:
"Republicans essentially just told 80 percent of Wisconsinites and a majority of gun owners, ‘go jump in a lake,' because they didn't have the courage to take a vote—much less have a dialogue—on two bills about universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders that we know can save lives," Evers said. "And they did so at their own peril because now Republicans have to go back to their districts and explain to their constituents why they refused to even do their jobs today."
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