A Democrat governor calls a special session to force the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to take up his slate of gun control bills. Where have we heard that before?
It happened in Virginia. That’s where Ralph Northam, following the Virginia Beach shooting, drew up a long list of gun control measures he wanted to see enacted and called a special legislative session to force the issue on the (slimly) GOP-controlled legislature.
Perhaps taking a cue from his blackface-wearing colleague in the Old Dominion, Wisconsin Democrat Governor Tony Evers adopted the same strategy. Last month he called the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature into special session to take up his proposals for “universal” background checks and a red flag law.
He probably had no illusions about either bill actually making it into law. But just as in Virginia, a special session is a no-lose proposition for an anti-gun governor.
The session itself focuses public and press attention on the issue. If the legislature caves, the governor gets new gun control measures to sign into law in front of the cameras. If it refuses, he has a prominent issue on which to base the next election campaign.
Yesterday, in Madison, the GOP house Assembly speaker Robin Vos shut down the mandated special session only seconds after convening it.
From Courthouse News . . .
While Evers’ executive order required the Legislature to meet, it did not have the power to make it actively debate the bills. The result was two sessions promptly gaveled in and out in the Assembly and Senate by the GOP majority in less than a minute.
Evers said Thursday night that the Legislature’s decision not to debate gun control amounted to telling “80% of Wisconsinites and a majority of gun owners ‘go jump in a lake.’”
His comment referred to a recent Marquette University Law School poll which found that 80% of those polled support expanding background checks and 81% support red-flag laws.
Yes, well, we all know how accurate that kind of polling can be.
The brief special session immediately followed the conclusion of a regular floor session during which a bi-partisan suicide prevention bill was approved.
The Assembly passed the suicide prevention package with near-unanimous support, which included a provision to give gun shops up to $5,000 to make storage space for people who want to store guns safely while they or a family member are experiencing mental health issues.
Vos applauded the passage of the suicide prevention bills in a release, saying he was proud of the bipartisan task force that spearheaded them.
“We’re setting an example that a great deal can be accomplished when you put politics aside,” he said.
But don’t look for Governor Evers or the state’s media to give the legislature any credit for that. All of the attention will instead be focused on a special session that never (really) was.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Wisconsin State Journal:
Wisconsin Public Radio:
The question now becomes whether Evers can use the issue to effect in November, 2020. That’s a long way off. And it won’t be an off-year election. The presidential race will be at the top of the ballot ensuring a large turnout and plenty of voters on both sides will participate.