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The top Republican in the Wisconsin State Assembly says there’s a near-zero chance that the state will ever see a red flag law. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos met with Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday to talk about gun control. Vos told News Talk 1130 WISN host Jay Weber that they didn’t make much progress. 

"The idea of a red flag law basically says 'We are going to take people's Constitutional rights away from them, before they commit a crime, because they could'," Vos said Thursday. "That is a fundamental principle for many [conservatives] that is very difficult to get around. And I think it's very likely that we're not going to ever take-up a red flag law."

Gov. Evers has been calling for a red flag law and expanded background checks since the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.  

The governor and legislative Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation that would require all gun purchases and transfers, even among family members, to first go through a background check. 

"Addressing gun violence doesn’t have to be a false choice between the 2nd Amendment and keeping our kids and our communities safe—we can walk and chew gum at the same time," Gov. Evers said. "A majority of Wisconsinites agree that no matter what kind of firearm is being purchased or where it’s being purchased from, the process should be the same."

Vos said forcing grandparents to run a background check before they can hand-down a shotgun or rifle is not going to make Wisconsin any safer.

"We know that the vast majority of folks who use a weapon either are a repeat felon, where they already don't have access to weapons because it is against the law, or someone who is committing suicide," Vos added.

Vos said he’s willing to look at ideas about background checks or mental health laws, but says he doesn’t want to see legislation that’s essentially political grandstanding.

"Governor Evers wants to have a red flag law, universal background checks, all of the different types of gun control that we know are not going to be effective," Vos said. "That's what's most frustrating for me. Take the politics aside, take the emotion out."

Evers said the issue of gun control is political.

"We have to stop ignoring the problem of gun violence in our state and our country, and it’s time for our elected officials to find the courage to do what is right," the governor said.

Vos is leaving the door open to strengthening Wisconsin's current law that allows local sheriffs to take guns from people who are deemed to be a threat. 

"We already have laws on the books that say if you are a danger to yourself, your family is allowed to go to court," Vos said. "So we already have a version of a red flag law. But it doesn't go anywhere near the extreme of what Gov. Evers is proposing."


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.