According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, yesterday’s tragic mass shooting in a Milwaukee home that left 5 dead is “being investigated as an act of family violence,” and the alleged shooter has a history of “domestic violence convictions.”
Since the start of the stay-at-home orders designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, local organizations and police departments have seen an increase in the number of domestic violence calls as women and families are forced to quarantine with abusive partners. Gun sales have also surged in Wisconsin, and research shows that when a domestic abuser has access to a gun, they are five times more likely to kill their victim.
“This horrific tragedy is a stark reminder that not everybody has the luxury of being safe while staying at home,” said Brenda Hines, a volunteer with Wisconsin Moms Demand Action. “It’s also a stark reminder that our leaders must do more to protect women and families in our state. Wisconsin lawmakers have had every opportunity to pass bills that would help prevent gun violence. When will they finally act to save lives in our communities?”
There are currently gaps in Wisconsin law that give domestic abusers easy access to guns. Wisconsin lawmakers had the opportunity this session to follow the lead of the more than two dozen states that have taken action in recent years to prevent gun violence by passing SB 517 and AB 577 – bills that have support from both sides of the aisle and would help keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers and other people with dangerous histories.
This week, Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns released guidance for mayors on ways to prevent gun violence amid the coronavirus crisis – including supporting the essential work of community gun violence intervention programs so that necessary outreach and services can continue uninterrupted, and protecting families by ensuring continuity of services to victims of domestic violence as women and families are forced to quarantine with abusers.
In November, the leaders of both the Wisconsin Assembly and the Wisconsin Senate ended special sessions on gun violence shortly after gaveling them in.
More information on gun violence in Wisconsin and across the U.S. is available here.