MADISON, Wis. — The shooter that killed 20 children and 6 adult teachers and school administrators in Newton, Connecticut last week used an assault rifle, equipped to fire 30 round magazines, that is available over the counter at chain retail outlets nationwide. In the face of national momentum to strengthen gun regulations to protect public safety, State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen spoke out publicly, belittling the efforts as “feel-good laws.”
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “It is an outrage that the state’s top cop seems more interested in protecting his political backside and pandering to pro-gun extremists than taking seriously the need to toughen gun laws to protect the public.”
Van Hollen was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the Republican primary in his first run for Attorney General in 2006 and his election in 2010. He has also received campaign contributions from the NRA’s political action committee.
In response to opposition from the NRA, Van Hollen watered down the training requirements proposed by his won department for individuals to receive a permit to carry a concealed gun in public. Ironically, Van Hollen’s office in the Risser Justice Center prohibits concealed carry on the premises.
“Time and again, when the NRA said jump, J.B. Van Hollen asked how high, most recently overriding the recommendations of his own department and watering down the training requirements a person must meet to get a permit to carry a concealed gun on their person in public,” noted Ross.
In Wisconsin there have been a reported 29 incidents of mass murder since 1985, killing at least 105 people. In all but four instances, a gun was used. Despite Wisconsin’s rank among the worst states in the nation for gun laws according to the nonpartisan Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and two instances of mass gun violence, at a temple and day spa in just the last six months, Van Hollen has failed to lead any new effort to restrict access to dangerous weapons.
Ross concluded, “We’ve just experienced another mass gun violence tragedy and J.B Van Hollen’s response is to, again, tow the radical gun lobby line and belittle the efforts of people demanding real action to stem the tide of gun violence. You would have hoped the state’s top law enforcement official would offer something other than condescension in response to the public’s interest in limiting the availability of weapons purpose built for killing large numbers of people.”