FILE - Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks with the media at an event Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Madison, Wis.

The top Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly say Gov. Tony Evers is finally admitting his true plan for guns: To take them away from law-abiding gun owners. 

Evers told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday that he  is open to the idea of mandatory gun buybacks, similar to what Democratic presidential candidate Robert "Beto" O'Rourke is proposing. 

"I’d consider it, but my focus is on these two bills and on the two offices that would be able to prevent it from going to a hearing and to a vote," Evers said.

The bills he is referring to are the plan to create a red flag gun law in Wisconsin. The offices who are able to prevent it are Assembly and Senate Republican leaders who oppose the idea. 

The governor is calling his red flag law the Extreme Risk Protection Order, which would allow a judge to take away someone's pistol, rifle or shotgun for up to a year if they are accused of domestic violence, child abuse, or are found to be a threat to themselves or others. Family members or law enforcement officers will be able to ask the court to make that determination. 

"Every single Republican in the legislature needs to be asked, on the record, whether they support an ERPO process," the governor said. "Just as they should be asked whether or not they support universal background checks."

But it's not the ERPO or background checks that has Republicans and gun owners in Wisconsin fired up. 

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a joint statement Thursday that Gov. Evers is finally admitting what gun owners have feared for a while.

“Today in a partial answer to a reporter's question, Governor Evers revealed Democrats’ real agenda: taking away firearms that are lawfully owned, which is unacceptable," Fitzgerald and Vos said. "Wisconsin laws already say if you’re a felon, you lose your right to own a gun. With Governor Evers considering confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens, it shows just how radical Democrats have become."

The two leaders added that there's no chance they will support the governor's call for a new law that could take guns from law-abiding citizens.

"It’s widely known that we believe this legislation poses threats to due process and the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," the pair said in a joint statement. 

Evers' ERPO legislation would give gun owners found to be a danger or accused of domestic violence 24 hours to surrender their guns, or they would face a felony charge. If gun owners do not surrender their weapons, police or the local sheriff will be tasked with taking them. 

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul told reporters that the ERPO legislation would be a net-positive for police and sheriffs.

"Law enforcement officers protect and serve communities across Wisconsin. We need to ensure that, when necessary, they have tools available to intervene and prevent tragedies. This legislation empowers law enforcement officers, as well as family and household members, with a tool they can use to take action – and potentially save lives  when people exhibit warning signs," Kaul said.

The plan does not yet have a hearing scheduled. Lawmakers are in Madison next week, next month, and for almost two weeks in November. 

Staff Reporter

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.