Evers stops in Wausau to proposes gun control bills

(First published in the October 24, 2019 issue of City Pages)

Announcement at City Hall last Tuesday comes as disturbing details emerge about the suspect in the fatal shooting at Pine Grove Cemetery


Gov. Tony Evers announced in Wausau a plan to introduce gun control measures through a special session, in the wake of a fatal shooting last month. Wausau Police Ben Bliven (center) and Mayor Robert Mielke joined Evers during his announcement.

Governor Tony Evers came to Wausau to propose a pair of bills meant to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and at-risk persons. His announcement last Tuesday at City Hall came three weeks after a fatal shooting Oct. 3 that rocked the community.

Evers proposed two bills: an Extreme Risk Protection Order that would allow judges to impose a gun ban on those deemed a risk by the court; and legislation that would close the background check loophole by requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases, including at trade shows and private sales.

Evers, flanked by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven, says he is calling on leaders of the senate and assembly to hold a special session to enact the bills on Nov. 7. Both Bliven and Barnes spoke about the need for gun control legislation. Chief Bliven pointed to the increase in drug crimes, and that access to firearms is one of the main “factors in some of the most serious” cases.

Evers’ proposals come on the wake of a rash of local shootings, including the shooting at Pine Grove Cemetery that left its manager dead and two others wounded. Shortly before that incident, a shooting near downtown Wausau over a botched drug deal narrowly missed being fatal: the bullet grazed the head of the teenaged victim.

But neither Evers, Barnes nor Bliven made any reference to any local shootings, and Evers said Wausau was one of many stops on his tour.

Evers can call the special session himself, but it’s up to the Assembly and Senate leaders to take up the bills in those sessions, and leaders of both houses— Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — both indicated there is slim to no chance of that happening.