FILE - Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

No one is saying what nearly 200 local leaders from across Wisconsin want done about gun violence in the state. But they all say they want lawmakers to do something. 

The Wisconsin League of Municipalities on Wednesday released a letter signed by 185 local leaders that asks the state legislature to address what they call an "epidemic of gun violence."

However, the group remained unspecific about possible remedies.

"Whether that response be more complete background checks, 'red flag laws,' increased resources for mental health response, prohibiting habitual criminals from possessing firearms, et al," the letter states. "Municipal leaders respect your role in deciding on a proper course of action, but we beg you – please act."

The League of Municipalities represents Wisconsin's 412 villages and 180 cities, but the 185 signatures does not mean 185 communities are on board. Many cities or villages had more than one person sign the letter. 

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is one of the biggest names, from the biggest city in the state, on the letter. He said Gov. Tony Evers is proposing ideas – a red flag law and background checks that apply to private and family sales of guns – that he likes. 

"It is important for our legislators to work with our governor to make sure we are doing everything we can to reduce the violence that we see not just in Milwaukee, not just in urban areas," Barrett said. 

A spokeswoman for Evers said Barrett and other local leaders are echoing what they've been saying for months. 

"These local officials are clearly listening to their constituents, who overwhelmingly support the commonsense gun safety proposals Gov. Evers has championed," Evers' spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a statement. 

But the Republicans who are in charge of the legislature in Madison continue say more laws won't make Wisconsin's problems go away.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said neither of Evers ideas would solve Wisconsin's actual problems with gun violence – suicides or that people with felony records continue to carry illegal guns. 

“In the Assembly, when we have an issue of such a serious nature, we look for bipartisan solutions like with the Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention," Vos said in a statement. 

That task force on Wednesday suggested the state help train people who work in gun shops to spot potentially suicidal people. 

The top Republican in the Wisconsin Senate once again said he doesn't want to create new laws that will take guns away from law-abiding people who have not committed a crime. 

"“As I’ve said before, if there were easy solutions to this problem it would have been solved a long time ago," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement. "I look forward to continuing to work with the municipalities on ways we can improve public safety while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Staff Writer

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