FILE - Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers

Democrats in Wisconsin are joining the chorus of lawmakers and leaders in other states calling for new gun laws after the weekend shootings in El Paso and Dayton. 

Gov. Tony Evers said he wants to see a new red flag law that would allow judges to take guns away from people who are mentally unstable or who've been deemed a threat. 

The governor also wants stricter background checks on gun purchases. 

"Universal background checks," Evers said. "To cover every sale of a weapon.  That's something that the majority of the people of Wisconsin believe in."

The governor also accused the Republicans who control the state legislature of being recalcitrant.  

"The bottom line is our legislature has avoided this issue totally," the governor told reporters at the Capitol.  "So whether there's a special session or not, we need to know that the other side is going to take this issue seriously."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Monday said he'd be open to meeting with the governor, but also added that he is "fearful of taking away anyone’s constitutional rights."

The Republican leader in the state Senate, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said the same thing about a proposed red flag law back in February. 

Fitzgerald and Vos both worry about how a red flag law would be written, and how the authorities would actually take guns from people. 

The pause for specifics, however, is not sitting well with Democratic lawmakers. 

State Rep. Chris Taylor on Tuesday accused the Republican leadership of being in the grasp of the NRA.

"What these politicians are really saying is not that they can’t act, but that they won’t act. My question to those policy makers is, ‘Why are you in public office?’," Taylor said in a statement. 

She then took it a step further and said if Vos doesn't call for a vote on new gun laws, he should step down.

"Robin Vos is morally and ethically incapable of leading the Assembly, and he should resign as leader," Taylor said. "He has prioritized consolidating his own power and his wealthy elite donors over advancing policies to protect the safety of our children and our communities. He is no leader."

Despite the rhetoric, the top Republicans in Madison are staying calm. 

Fitzgerald said in a statement Monday that they are open to any and all new ideas. 

"As we come back for the fall session, our caucus will have discussions around all newly proposed legislation like we always do," Fitzgerald added. 

Lawmakers are due back to Madison for about a week in mid-September.  And then again in October and November. 

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.