Lobby Day 2017

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On Nov. 1, 2017, over 100 citizens concerned about gun violence met in Madison for a day of legislative action. Constituents made their case for action directly to their elected representatives. Every member of the legislature received our message: Gun violence is NOT inevitable. We CAN save lives.

Thank you to all our volunteers who joined together for a powerful and meaningful day!

(For more photos, please check out WAVE’s Facebook page.)

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Our activities and achievements

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Over the past year, WAVE helped form the Wisconsin Gun Safety Coalition, a group of organizations and individuals devoted to preventing gun violence and building safer communities. After meeting regularly for several months, the coalition was formally kicked-off at a press conference April 2017. Coalition partners have already worked together to fight the dangerous “permitless carry” bill and, going forward, will work on a proactive, lifesaving agenda, including the advancement of a criminal background check bill.

WAVE volunteers turned out to support the kick-off press conference of the Wisconsin Gun Safety Coalition at the State Capitol. The coalition’s endorsement of a bill to require background checks on every gun sale was also announced at that time. Coalition members include: End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, Dr. Elizabeth Neary, Jean Papalia, Mental Health America of Wisconsin, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Wisconsin Chapter, National Physicians Alliance Wisconsin Chapter, National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Chapter, Rep. Terese Berceau, Rep. Melissa Sargent, Rep. Lisa Subeck, Rep. Chris Taylor, Sen. LaTonya Johnson, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, WAVE Educational Fund, Wisconsin Council of Churches, Wisconsin Physicians for Social Responsibility.


WAVE volunteer activists attended legislative hearings, town hall meetings, school board meetings, and face-to-face meetings with elected officials to ensure gun violence prevention is part of the agenda.

Members of our Milwaukee-area action team attended a town hall meeting with their state senator. Of the approximately 30 citizens at the meeting, more than half were there to speak out about the “permitless carry” bill being considered by the legislature. No attendees spoke in favor of that bill, and no other policy topic generated more than a single speaker. Although the senator began the meeting uncommitted on the topic of “permitless carry,” after hearing from so many constituents opposed to the bill, by the end of the meeting she had voiced her opposition to the proposal. Our volunteers then went on to testify against the bill during a public hearing in Madison. The day after the public hearing, Governor Walker stated that he did not see a need for the bill.


Our highly-engaged supporters hosted WAVE education and awareness events in Madison, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Monroe, Appleton and elsewhere. These events included concerts, movie screenings, panel discussions, press conferences, and virtual meetings.

Our Madison group, for example, created a one-day display of 92 pairs of shoes at the Capitol to represent the 92 Americans killed in gun violence each day. The display generated a tremendous amount of media coverage and resulted in many signatures on a petition to pass a federal background check law.


WAVE staff and volunteers gathered signatures on petitions at numerous community events and neighborhood gatherings all across the state, including Fond du Lac, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, Appleton, Madison, Oak Creek and Milwaukee.

After one of the worst mass shootings in American history, WAVE activists gathered signatures at events across Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, and constituent volunteers called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to move forward a bill for universal background checks. The petitions were delivered by WAVE’s volunteers to Speaker Ryan’s staff at his district offices and during mobile office hours.


WAVE volunteer activists advocated to school boards across the state to pass resolutions opposing any change in state law to allow concealed carry on school grounds. At least 15 school districts have now passed resolutions, including: Whitefish Bay, Oak Creek-Franklin, Shorewood, Madison, Nicolet, Fox Point-Bayside, Wauwatosa, Appleton, Brodhead, Kaukauna, Mequon-Thiensville, Monroe, Middleton-Cross Plains, McFarland, and Monona Grove.

WAVE staff held informational sessions for our action teams. Many of our volunteers then went to their own school boards, urging them to pass resolutions opposed to any legislation that would allow guns in schools. After having success with their own school boards, our volunteer teams began recruiting other parents to take similar actions. Our volunteers explained their experiences to other supporters on a statewide conference call that WAVE hosted. Next, the volunteers created an activist toolkit, which they shared widely. As a result of their efforts, more than a dozen districts have passed resolutions, and many more are in the process of doing so.


WAVE volunteers across the state provided local expertise to print and broadcast media outlets.

We trained volunteers to talk to the media about the issue of gun violence prevention and its impacts on their families, neighborhoods, and communities.


WAVE activists participated in rallies and protests across Wisconsin to bring attention to the issue of gun violence prevention.

Gun violence prevention policy is intertwined with many other policies and issues. This past year, WAVE volunteers joined the Women’s March, the March for Science, and Moral Mondays, as well as the Wear Orange, Disarm Hate, and We Need Nine campaigns.

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Permitless Carry Dangers

How the proposed Permitless Gun Carry bill (SB 169 / AB 247) would change Wisconsin law

The proposed “permitless gun carry” bill would wipe out our current, reasonable regulations of public gun carrying. Specifically, this dangerous bill would:

Eliminate the current requirement for training and a background check prior to carrying a concealed weapon

Eliminate Wisconsin’s current gun-free school zones law, allowing guns on school grounds and in school buildings unless signs have been posted

Mandate that schools must allow guns in cars parked or traveling on school property

Reduce the penalty for illegally carrying firearms in school zones from a felony to a misdemeanor or a fine

Reduce the minimum age requirement to conceal and carry a loaded weapon from 21 to 18


Wisconsinites don’t support permitless gun carrying

Wisconsinites know passing such a law is a bad idea.

• A January 2017 poll conducted by Survey USA found that 91% of Wisconsinites – including 86% of gun owners – support the current law requiring a mandatory permitting process that includes background checks and training.

• In addition, a poll conducted in March and April 2017 by the Pew Research Center found that 81% of Americans are opposed to the notion of allowing concealed carry without a permit, including the two-thirds of Americans who are strongly opposed.


The impact on Wisconsinites

Permitless gun carrying puts everyone in the community at risk by allowing just about anyone to carry a loaded gun in public places, no questions asked.

• Recklessly, the proposed bill could make Wisconsin more dangerous by eliminating the screening process that now occurs when adults apply for concealed carry permits. For example, since 2011, thousands of concealed carry permits were denied or invalidated specifically because the applicant could not pass a background check or had violated state or federal laws.

• Unfortunately, since the 2011 law that legalized concealed gun carrying in our state, firearm suicide and homicide rates have increased, not decreased.


Instead of weakening our gun laws by eliminating the requirement for a permit, background check, and training, Wisconsin should strengthen our current laws.

Recent research has found that concealed carry laws like the one currently on the books in Wisconsin, so-called “right to carry” laws, are associated with smaller decreases in violent crime than in states without these types of laws. These states also tend to have higher and higher rates of violent crime over time after passing “right to carry” laws than would have been expected based on their prior crime rates. On average, five years after passing the law, the average “right to carry” state has an aggregate violent crime rate around 7% higher than expected. After 10 years, the average state’s rate is nearly 15% higher than expected. The concealed carry law itself is found to have caused the higher rates.



For more information on permitless gun carry and guns in schools issues, please visit:
Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Concealed Carry of Firearms: Fact vs. Fiction
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Concealed Weapons Permitting
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence/Americans for Responsible Solutions Permitless Concealed Carry Fact Sheet
The Center for American Progress Keeping Wisconsin Schools and Campuses Safe
Everytown for Gun Safety Concealed Handguns in Public with No Permit/Guns in Elementary, Middle, and High Schools Wisconsin Fact Sheet
Everytown for Gun Safety Permitless Carry Facts
Everytown for Gun Safety Guns in Elementary, Middle and High Schools Facts

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Get The Facts

Shoe display representing the lives lost to gun violence each year in Wisconsin. 

Gun Violence by the Numbers

Every day in the United States, approximately 300 people—including 65 children and teens—are injured or killed with guns in murders, assaults, suicides, and accidents.

In Wisconsin, approximately 500 men, women and children are killed with guns each year, including the 75% who die as a result of suicide.

In 2014, 133 Wisconsin veterans died by suicide, including 86 by firearm suicide. The suicide rate among veterans in Wisconsin is over twice the rate among the general population.

In 2014, there were 742 firearm injury-related emergency department visits in Wisconsin.

Gun deaths devastate families in both urban and rural areas, while Wisconsin’s urban areas are disproportionately impacted by homicides; the state’s less populated areas experience greater rates of gun suicide.

Since Sandy Hook, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America, about one per week.

Gun violence costs our country $229 billion in combined direct and in-direct expenses annually.

For more data:

The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 2,500 media, law enforcement, government, and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. The Archive DOES NOT include gun suicide data.

Everytown for Gun Safety compiles daily school shooting incidents, defined as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and, when necessary, confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement or school officials. Incidents in which guns were brought into schools but not discharged, or where the firearm was discharged off school grounds, are NOT included.”

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Policies to Save Lives


1) Require background checks on all gun sales.  

  • Eight out of ten Wisconsin residents, including gun owners, support a law requiring background checks on all gun sales.[iii]
  • When Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase law, which required a background check prior to purchasing a handgun, firearm homicides in the state soared by 25%. That means an additional 49 to 68 people are murdered every year.[ii]
  • In the 10 years following Connecticut’s passage of its law requiring prospective handgun buyers to first obtain a permit -by passing a criminal background check- firearm homicides declined by 40%.[i]
  • In Wisconsin, federally licensed dealers are required to conduct a background check on all firearm sales, but private sellers are not. This private sale loophole allows just about anyone to buy a gun with no background check, no identification, and no questions asked.

2) Prohibit habitual criminals and those with violent misdemeanor convictions      from purchasing or possessing firearms for 10 years.

  • Research shows the clearest predictor of future violence is past violence. A study found that people who lawfully bought handguns, even though they previously had been convicted of two or more violent misdemeanors, were 15 times as likely as handgun purchasers with no criminal history to later be arrested for murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault.[i]

3) Create a mechanism that allows for the temporary removal of guns when individuals are at high risk of harming themselves or others.

  • Often after a horrible tragedy, such as a mass shooting or a suicide, family members will report they saw clear warning signs, but there was nothing they could do.
  • The creation of a Lethal Violence Protective Order would give family members and law enforcement officers the means to ask a judge to temporarily prohibit a person from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

4) Reinstate the 48-hour waiting period for handgun sales.

  • Evidence presented in The American Journal of Public Health demonstrates that waiting periods are an effective means of reducing gun suicide. States with a waiting period for handgun sales had 51% fewer firearm suicides per capita.[ii]
  • That same study found, “In 11 states with waiting periods, the longer the waiting period, the lower the gun suicide rate.” [iii]
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