Latest Polls

Every year in Wisconsin, nearly 600 children and adults are killed with guns, leaving families and communities devastated. Strong research and compelling evidence prove that we can prevent these tragedies.

The nearly 70,000 WAVE Ed Fund supporters shown on this map urge our elected officials to put the safety of our families and communities first and take action to prevent gun violence.

Wisconsinites, like most Americans, support stronger gun laws

The most recent polling of Wisconsin residents indicates that the vast majority of our state’s citizens favor strong gun laws that save lives, mirroring results from recent national poles.

Requiring background checks for every gun sale

Extreme Risk Protective Orders

wave2019Latest Polls
read more

Preventing Suicide Through Sensible Policy

Extreme Risk Protective Orders (ERPO) Save Lives

How does ERPO Work?

ERPO gives families and law enforcement officers a way to ask a judge to temporarily prohibit an at-risk person from purchasing or possessing a gun. ERPO is a non-criminal process that involves a court hearing and clearly defined due process protections.

How can ERPO help save lives?

  • ERPO is effective because guns present a uniquely lethal risk in cases of attempted suicide
    • 90% of suicide attempts using a gun are fatal, compared to 5% of most common alternative methods (Azrael, Miller)
  • Suicidal acts are often impulsive and fleeting and, thus, preventing access to the most lethal means is crucial
  • Saving someone’s life in the near-term will likely save that person’s life in the long-term
    • Just 10% of those who survive a suicide attempt go on to die from suicide later (Owens, et al)

How are suicide and gun violence related?

  • Every day 65 Americans commit suicide using a gun (CDC)
  • In 2017 nearly half (47%) of all suicide deaths in Wisconsin involved guns (CDC)
  • Over 75% of all gun deaths in Wisconsin are deaths due to suicide (Giffords Law Center)

Is suicide a unique problem in Wisconsin?

  • The suicide rate in Wisconsin was higher than the national average in 2017 (15.45 people vs 14 people per 100,000 people) (AFSP)
  • 926 people in Wisconsin died from suicide in 2017 (AFSP)
  • Teen suicide in Wisconsin has almost doubled since 2007 (CDC)

Does ERPO violate our Constitutional Rights (2nd Amendment, Due Process)?

No. The Supreme Court ruled in D.C. vs Heller that the 2nd Amendment allows for firearm restrictions that are “presumptively lawful.” Moreover, ERPO follows due process through the court system by allowing a judge to make an informed decision to temporarily remove firearms from people posing an imminent threat.

Isn’t law enforcement already removing firearms from people posing a threat?

Sometimes; but municipalities have been sued for this because they do not have the legal backing that ERPO provides. Meanwhile, Chapter 51, which is sometimes invoked by law enforcement, is more complex than ERPO and is often inadequate for providing safety to someone who is suicidal.


Sources

The epidemiology of case fatality rates for suicide in the northeast.
Matthew J. Miller, Deborah Azrael, David Hemenway. 2004
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15159703

Fatal and non-fatal repetition of self-harm. Systematic review.
David Owens, Judith Horrocks, Allan House. 2002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12204922

Suicide Statistics
American Society for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

Fatal Injury Reports, National, Regional and State, 1981 – 2017
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate.html

Photo Credit: Illustration by Brian Stauffer for Rolling Stone

wave2019Preventing Suicide Through Sensible Policy
read more

Policies to Save Lives

Overwhelmingly, Wisconsinites – from every part of the state – support commonsense gun violence prevention policies.

The following laws would help prevent gun violence in Wisconsin:

Require background checks on all gun sales.

  • 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 sell a gun with no background check, no identification, and no questions asked.  Between 80% and 90% of Wisconsinites, including gun owners, support background checks on all gun sales. 
  • In the 10 years following Connecticut’s passage of its law requiring prospective handgun buyers to first get a permit – by passing a criminal background check – firearm homicides declined by 40%.[1]

Create a mechanism that allows for the temporary removal of guns when individuals are in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.

  • Often after a horrible act of violence, families say they saw warning signs – red flags – but there was nothing they could do.
  • An Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) gives families and law enforcement officers a way to ask a judge to temporarily prohibit an at-risk person from possessing a gun. The ERPO is a non-criminal process that involves a court hearing, as well as clearly defined due process protections.
  • When our loved ones are in crisis, they should have access to quality care, not guns.

Prohibit those with violent misdemeanor convictions from possessing firearms for 10 years. 

  • In Wisconsin, people with a long history of violence, such as assault and battery, can still buy guns.
  • Research shows that one of the strongest predictors of future violence is past violence. A study found that people who lawfully bought guns after being convicted of two or more violent misdemeanors were 15 times as likely to later be arrested for murder, rape or aggravated assault.[2]

[1] Rudolph, K., et al, “Association between Connecticut’s permit-to-purchase handgun law and homicides,” American Journal of Public Health, June 2015.

[2] Wintemute, G., et al, “Prior Misdemeanor Convictions as a Risk Factor for Later Violent and Firearm-Related Criminal Activity among Authorized Purchasers of Handguns,” JAMA, 1998.

wave2019Policies to Save Lives
read more

2019 Youth Summer Internship

Lakefront Street Action, July 3, 2019

Woah! It has been quite a summer!

WAVE’s eight 2019 youth summer interns, aged 15 to 19, were very busy advocating for gun violence prevention in Wisconsin.

Throughout the summer, the interns cultivated strong friendships with one another and developed skills that they will continue to use throughout their lives.

Examples of What We Did

Performed street actions to demand commonsense gun policies

  • Held up signs supporting gun violence prevention reforms at Lake Michigan on July 3rd, a day that attracts many people to the area for fireworks,
  • Protested (holding signs and chanting) outside Senator Ron Johnson’s Milwaukee office due to his dangerous voting history regarding gun violence prevention reforms, and
  • Led the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County on a street march in Madison with signs and chants.

Collected signatures and wrote a letter to demand policy change from lawmakers at the…

  • August Recess Rally,
  • Brewers Community Foundation kiosk at Miller Park,
  • Fondy Farmers Market, and
  • Milwaukee Public Market.

Empowered youth leaders through youth peace advocacy training at the…

  • All People’s Church Youth Music Activism Workshop,
  • Boys and Girls Club of Dane County,
  • Independence-First Youth Leadership Summit,
  • Oakland Cambridge Presbyterian Church, and
  • Peacemakers’ Day Camp.

Registered voters (especially in marginalized communities) at the…

  • All People’s Church Isaiah 55 Food Pantry,
  • Fondy Farmers Market,
  • Phongsavan Asian Market Health Fair,
  • Southwest Wisconsin YWCA,
  • WestCare Wisconsin E.A.T.S. Food Pantry, and
  • 2019 League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Convention and Exposition at the Wisconsin Center.

Collaborated and spread awareness with ally organizations, including…

  • All Peoples Church is a truly inclusive church that partners for justice and welcomes all people. All Peoples Church is outspoken in support of “Black Lives Matter,’ the LGBTQ community, and immigrants.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Dane County has a vision is to inspire and empower all young people, especially those who need them most, to reach their full potential as responsible and caring adults.
  • Brewers Community Foundation harnesses the pride, passion, and commitment of Brewers fans, players and other supporters to positively impact the lives of children and their families in Greater Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
  • Fondy Farmers Market is a diverse, nationally recognized leader in connecting low-income people with the benefits of farmers’ markets.
  • Independence-First’s has a mission to effectively facilitate the empowerment of diverse, multi-cultural individuals with disabilities. Independence-First values inclusion, access, empowerment, and independence for people with disabilities.
  • Indivisible Tosa takes effective action to make sure that Congress is paying attention to the voters.
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs.
  • March for Our Lives (Madison and Milwaukee chapters) harnesses the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives.
  • Milwaukee Consortium for Hmong Health, Inc. strives to build the capacity to address cancer health disparities through community engagement.
  • Milwaukee Friends Meeting (Quakers) is a witness for peace, equality, simplicity, and justice.
  • Moms Demand Action/Students Demand Action/Everytown for Gun Safety are fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.
  • Northcott Neighborhood House strives to empower families to meet their survival needs and provide good parenting to their children; to provide a safe place for youth as well as recreational and skill-building activities; and to provide the neighborhood with space, activities, and the opportunity to engage in community building and crime prevention.
  • Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee (SWIM) acts to inspire a dynamic collaboration that heals trauma and creates a resilient community.
  • Southwest Wisconsin YWCA is an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
  • WestCare was founded to reclaim, rename, and rebuild the Harambee (meaning “Work Together – Pull Together” in Swahili) Neighborhood.
wave20192019 Youth Summer Internship
read more

Gun Violence Prevention Citizen Action Day

We Deserve To Be Heard

The majority of Wisconsin lawmakers have ignored the evidence, ignored their constituents, and ignored the devastation gun violence thrusts into the lives of Wisconsinites. It’s time for us to pack the Capitol full of citizens, who are united in their determination to prevent gun violence. 

Citizen Action Day Details:

Deserve To Be Heard on Thursday, October 24th, 2019
9:45am – 10am – Check-in at Bethel Lutheran Church, 312 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison, WI
10am – 12:45pm – Orientation on gun violence in Wisconsin, training on citizen-lobbying best practices, and lunch at Bethel Lutheran Church
1:00pm – 3:00pm – Meetings with your elected officials or their staff members at the Capitol 

$15 fee includes your lunch and all training materials. 

Sign up to attend!

wave2019Gun Violence Prevention Citizen Action Day
read more

Our activities and achievements

2 comments

Our Activities and Achievements 2017-2018

Public Policy: Creating Commonsense Solutions


The legislative climate related to gun violence prevention remains harsh in Wisconsin, yet WAVE supporters have been able to make significant gains in pursuing lifesaving policies and in stopping radical pro-gun legislation. Importantly, all three of our policy priorities were drafted this 2017-2018 legislative session–two of them with bipartisan sponsors.

Suicide Prevention: In Wisconsin, approximately three-fourths of firearm deaths are suicide deaths. WAVE worked worked closely with our allies, particularly those from the mental health and suicide prevention communities, in crafting and advocating for a bipartisan Lethal Violence Protective Order (LVPO) bill—a “red flag” bill. We will continue to work on this bill in the next legislative session.

Urban Violence Reduction: Most of Wisconsin’s firearm homicides occur in the urban centers, particularly Milwaukee. Strong scientific evidence shows that we could successfully reduce gun homicides by keeping guns out of the hands of those at greatest risk for violent behaviors. Therefore, WAVE works with key stakeholders to advocate for several important bills. In addition to the LVPO, we promoted a universal background check policy, which is central to any comprehensive approach to gun violence prevention. We also worked on a bipartisan bill that would prohibit violent misdemeanants and habitual criminals from purchasing and possessing firearms.

Minimizing the Extremist Pro-Gun Agenda: WAVE provides substantial resistance to the “any gun, anywhere” agenda. Over the past year, pro-gun lawmakers introduced legislation to eliminate the training and permit requirements for public gun carrying (permitless carry), to allow guns in K-12 schools, and to require high schools to offer gun training classes. For each of these reckless policies, we generated thousands of constituent contacts with legislators and an enormous public outcry: We stopped all of these bills from becoming law in Wisconsin!

Citizen and Supporter Engagement: Growing a Visible and Vocal Presence


WAVE action teams in key areas of the state, including Madison, the greater Milwaukee area, and the Fox Valley, meet on a regular basis to plan and host “days of action” and other volunteer-led events, such as public awareness events in their communities, press conferences, and face-to-face meetings with their legislators. Currently, our action teams are leading the effort to motivate school districts and common councils to pass resolutions aligned with our policy priorities.

Our highly-engaged supporters and partners hosted WAVE at events in Madison, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, Appleton, Brookfield, Monroe, Janesville, Sun Prairie, Stevens Point and elsewhere this year. Highlights included a staged play reading in Madison by the Forward Theater Company, a benefit concert in Milwaukee by Charlie King, and the Women’s March in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Eau Claire.

During the legislative session, with very little notice, we filled a State Capitol hearing room (and the overflow room) with several hundred informed people ready to testify in opposition to the permitless carry and guns in schools bill, vastly outnumbering those who were in favor. Just one day after our massive turnout, the governor told the press that he did not think the requirements for carrying a concealed weapon should be changed, effectively killing the bill. (And, by the end of the legislative session, the full-time lobbyist brought in to get the bill passed had moved back to Idaho!)

We also held our biennial Lobby Day event, bringing hundreds of gun violence prevention activists to the Capitol to meet with legislators and advocate for stronger gun laws.

Coalition Engagement: Finding Strength in Numbers


Organizations that actively work with us to advance gun policy reform in Wisconsin include: Mental Health America, Wisconsin; the Wisconsin Association of School Boards; Moms Demand Action, Wisconsin; Organizing for Action, Wisconsin; League of Women Voters of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice; the Wisconsin Council of Churches; End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin; Kids Forward; Peace Action Wisconsin; Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee; Grassroots Northshore; Catholics for Peace and Justice; NAMI-Wisconsin; Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; National Council of Jewish Women, Milwaukee; City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention; Common Ground; the Wisconsin Public Education Network, and Wisconsin Voices, as well as national partners, including Guns Down, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Survivors Lead, NoRA, and Moms Rising.

WAVE staff and volunteers regularly attend events and meetings hosted by coalition groups, such as the Wisconsin Gun Safety Coalition, the Coalition for a People’s Sheriff, the Community Coalition for Quality Policing, the African-American Engagement Roundtable, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and the State Voices Racial Equity group, to name a few.

Over the past year, we also began working with a number of important new allies, including the Wisconsin Public Education Network, Progressive Moms of Wisconsin and Forward Kenosha, but perhaps our most exciting new partnerships have been those we formed with the student-led groups. Following the horrific tragedy in Parkland, Florida, thousands of young people joined the gun violence prevention movement, bringing powerful new messages from dynamic new messengers. WAVE promoted and participated in March for Our Lives in 14 cities across Wisconsin, co-sponsored the 50 Miles More march, and served as the fiscal agent for March for Our Lives, Milwaukee. WAVE wholeheartedly supports and promotes the many student-led walk-outs, vigils, rallies, and marches that have occurred over the past few months.

Public Awareness: Redefining Cultural Norms


WAVE is the Wisconsin media’s go-to organization when seeking a local comment on a story related to gun violence or gun violence prevention. In 2017-18, WAVE staff, board members and trained volunteers in key areas of the state were quoted in at least 460 media hits, with a total reach of 957,310,522 people.

WAVE also uses traditional and social media to push back against the “normalization” of public gun carrying. For example, last August, when the NRA came to Milwaukee to host its first-ever Carry Guard Expo to promote their new “murder insurance” product for trigger-happy gun owners, we organized a large protest rally. The result was that the NRA lost control of the message–all of the stories about the expo also included information about the real life impacts of gun violence. In addition, the negative media coverage attracted the attention of insurance regulators, who effectively shut down the new program.

For the 4th annual National Gun Violence Prevention Awareness Day (Wear Orange Day) in June, WAVE organized four days of events across the state, including rallies, press conferences, vigils, and community gatherings. And in Milwaukee, several downtown buildings turned orange for the evening, including the Bucks training facility, the Gas Light Building, and the Pfister Hotel. At all events we empowered our supporters and the public to take action by standing strong with our highly-visible movement, honoring the memories of lives lost, and demanding change from their elected officials.

Research and Education: Providing Information and Inspiration


To better inform Wisconsin voters and policymakers, WAVE conducts our own primary and secondary research. Currently, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin School of Public Health is examining the relationship between the state’s concealed weapons law and firearm deaths, particularly suicides. Her preliminary findings will be available within the next few months.

In addition, WAVE created a comprehensive voter issue guide focused on each facet of the impact of gun violence, such as public health, the economy, childhood well-being, and community safety. Each area has a detailed explanation of the topic, including relevant statistics, as well as potential solutions and suggested questions that our supporters can ask candidates and elected officials at candidate forums, town hall meetings, or on social media.

 

 

Our Activities and Achievements 2016-2017


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.

wave2019Our activities and achievements
read more

WAVE Voter Guide to Gun Violence Prevention

This guide offers facts about the impacts of gun violence on children, families, our communities, and the economy. It also presents evidence-based policy solutions proven to save lives. We hope you will use it to become more informed about the issue and the ways in which gun policy reform can improve our safety.

wave2019WAVE Voter Guide to Gun Violence Prevention
read more