New legislation would limit firearm access

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 6:52 PM CST
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul was in La Crosse Tuesday announcing legislation aiming to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

The bill introduced addresses two statutes regarding domestic violence and disorderly conduct.

“We’ve proposed to reorganize the domestic violence statute as well as the disorderly conduct statute so that it will make it clear when a disorderly conduct conviction is one that results from domestic violence,” Kaul said.

Last year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that anyone convicted of disorderly conduct could retain their access to firearms. Before that ruling, they couldn’t.

“Previously when individuals have been convicted of disorderly conduct and the underlying conduct involves domestic violence, we have been able to prevent those individuals from obtaining firearms,” Kaul said. “Our proposal would separate out the types of conduct that lead to disorderly conduct so that it’s very clear from the conviction whether it involves violence or not.”

Domestic violence is something affecting people across the state, including Western Wisconsin.

“In the last 17 years, in La Crosse and surrounding counties of Trempealeau, Jackson, Monroe and Vernon, 18 victims of domestic abuse have been killed with gunfire by their abusers,” Ann Kappauf, the executive director of New Horizons, said. “As members of these communities, we need to acknowledge that domestic abuse is not a couple’s problem, it’s a community problem.”

“This is about keeping firearms out of the hands of people who have committed a violent crime,” Kaul said.

Kaul worked with State Senator Kelda Roys and Representative Lisa Subeck to introduce this legislation. He said he hopes through bipartisan support, it will move ahead and become state law.