Gun violence is an American epidemic. Every year we lose 30,000 men, women, and children to accidental shootings, domestic violence, homicides, suicides and mass shootings, and that’s on top of the 200 people injured by guns every day.
Despite this enormous problem, Republicans at the state and federal level refuse to move forward on even the most basic gun safety measures. Whether it’s background checks, 48-hour waiting periods, restricting the sales of automatic weapons, outlawing bump stocks, improving mental health services, or the many other proposals aimed at fighting gun violence, there has been zero progress.
Now, I’m not naïve. I know that we will never completely eliminate gun violence in our country, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to prevent as many unnecessary deaths and injuries as possible. Thoughts and prayers are not a solution to this problem. This issue demands action and accountability.
Until the day we can move forward on common-sense gun safety measures, it is our responsibility to provide some peace to the victims and their families. For the many people who have been hurt or lost loved ones to gun violence, there is little to no recourse. In 2005, Congress passed laws to ensure that weapons manufacturers could not be held legally liable for the damages caused by their products, a protection granted to no other industry.
This is unfair and abjectly cruel. To remedy this injustice and hold the gun industry accountable, I am introducing legislation today, Dec. 5, to create a Gun Violence Victims Fund.
This bill, LRB is 4816/1, would tax gun manufacturers that sell guns in Wisconsin the same way we tax cigarette or alcohol manufacturers. With those funds — 0.5 percent of the manufacturer’s list price — we hope to address the physical, emotional, and financial costs that burden the victims of gun violence. This could include things like medical bills, funeral expenses, missed work, rehabilitation or counseling. While we can never completely heal the wounds caused by gun violence, we can come together to console the victims and give them what they need to move forward.
Again, what we ought to be doing is passing common sense gun safety laws, but if Republicans are unwilling to pass legislation to prevent the pain and violence caused by guns, we ought to help the victims put their lives back together. We owe them that much.
Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, represents the 47th Assembly District.
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