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Wisconsin residents need stricter gun laws

Alexandra Snow, Opinion Writer
November 7, 2012
Filed under Opinion

It’s no secret Wisconsin has had a bad year with gun violence. In August there was the shooting in Oak Creek at a Sikh temple, leaving seven dead including the gunman, according to the Washington Post. More recently, there was a shooting in Brookfield at the Azana Salon and Spa, which left three women dead — including the gunman’s wife — and four more injured before the shooter turned his gun on himself.

According to the Associated Press, this latest attack has been the momentum behind two lawmakers’ push for more restrictions on gun laws when it comes to domestic violence.

Wisconsin Sen. Lena Taylor said, “The shooting highlights the need for better law enforcement that require restraining order recipients to surrender their weapons.”

Currently, according to a Legislative Reference Bureau analysis, the law mandates perpetrators of domestic abuse, child abuse and harassment are not able to possess any firearms. People who have caused some type of harm to others are also not allowed to have firearms.

According to the Badger Herald, in a statement Taylor gave, she said there are many loopholes in the current law and the new bill will ensure the person will surrender their weapons.

However, the new law may not have helped even if it were in place before the shooting at the Brookfield spa, where Radcliffe Haughton opened fire at the spa where his wife worked Oct. 21. They were going through a divorce, and three days prior to the shooting, she had issued a restraining order against him.

According to the Associated Press, he was asked to surrender any weapons he may have had before the shooting, although it is unclear whether he turned any in or not.

In the state of Wisconsin, when someone purchases a handgun, federally licensed dealers are required to do an instant background check on the individual and keep a 48-hour waiting period to purchase a handgun, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

The day prior to the shooting, Haughton went out and purchased a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun from a private dealer, according to police in Brown Deer, a suburb of Milwaukee where Haughton lived.

The seller did nothing illegal — individuals aren’t required to conduct background checks or enforce a 48-hour waiting period as licensed gun dealers are under state law.

Even if Haughton had given up all his firearms, he could have just as easily bought a gun from a private seller within the hour.

However, if laws on selling guns privately were beefed up, it could require individuals to do a background check on perspective buyers, which might cripple the private selling practice in Wisconsin.

Danielle Nelson, UW-Green Bay junior design and studio arts major, said any extra hassle for private sellers shouldn’t get in the way of gun control.

“Private dealers should have to be held to the same standard as registered dealers,” Nelson said.

Overall there is a good argument to be had for making Wisconsin gun laws stricter. Weapons need to have a strong set of laws behind them for safety’s sake. If they don’t, Wisconsin residents can only expect to see more tragedies like the Brookfield spa shooting.

Taylor Saari, junior human development major, said the state needs to keep a closer eye on potentially dangerous individuals.

“Anyone who has a restraining order filed against them may be highly agitated,” Saari said. “Their actions should be monitored even past the 48-hour window, and it should involve more than just further gun purchases.”

Even though it may make it harder for the rest of us to purchase guns, I would rather have to jump through hoops to buy a gun than to have it end up in the wrong hands.