RHINELANDER - Thirty three days ago, 20 children and six adults were shot at an elementary school in Connecticut. Today, President Obama gives us the strictest gun control proposals since the 1960s.
The President signed 23 executive actions that will take effect immediately. And he asked Congress to act on a few measures that are sure to cause some division.
Five of the executive actions related to universal background checks, and the kind of information that will be available for them. One order called for emergency preparation in schools. Another was a commitment to better mental health care.
But the President said these orders are not a substitute for action by Congress.
"I'm calling on Congress to pass some very specific proposals right away. First, it's time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun," says President Obama.
Oneida County Republican chairman Andy Laduha told us today he strongly supports universal background checks
That's not surprising since a recent Republican poll shows 80% of gun owners- and 74% of NRA members support this measure.
The executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort was on Vice-President Biden's task force. She says having better background checks was the number one recommendation her group made.
"These proposals, particularly the background checks on all gun sales have really strong support from gun owners, which is obviously very heartening. Because it's very good to know that it's both non-gun owners and gun owners as well who are supportive of solutions to gun violence," says Jeri Bonavia.
Bonavia says given the amount of support the universal background checks proposal has, she doesn't think it'll have a problem passing through Congress.
But another measure the President asked them to consider will prove more difficult.
"Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ten round limit for magazines," says President Obama.
Critics of limiting magazines to ten rounds say they could do as much damage with multiple magazines, as someone with a high capacity one.
But Bonavia says the time in-between reloading could be crucial.
"In that regard if you're adding seconds, or a minute, it turns out that has probably been quite lifesaving in these situations that have already occurred," says Bonavia.
Oneida County Republican Chairman Andy Laduha says he doesn't think banning the weapons or magazines gets to the root of the problem. He says the people who shouldn't own them are still able to get their hands on them-- hat's why he supports the universal background checks.
The NRA released a statement today saying:
"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation.
Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
APPLETON - The U.S. Marshals Service says a convicted sex offender who was wanted for violating the terms of his release has been arrested in Appleton.
The agency says 63-year-old L.C. Streeter, of Milwaukee, was previously convicted of four separate sexual assaults from 1976 to 1985. Wisconsin committed him as a sexually violent person in 1996, and he remained in treatment until his release in 2013 under intensive supervision.
The service said in a statement that he cut off his GPS and electronic monitoring bracelets and fled supervision on Monday, resulting in a warrant for his arrest. Federal marshals and Appleton police arrested him without incident in Appleton on Friday.
Kevin Carr, the U.S. marshal for eastern Wisconsin, says Streeter was "an absolute danger to the community based upon his past convictions."
WAUSAU - This has been Wisconsin's deadliest gun-deer season in the past five years, with two shooting fatalities already recorded.
Daily Herald Media reports (http://wdhne.ws/1HvNth3 ) that the two fatalities brought to an end a three-year series of seasons that had been free of firearm deaths. Four other hunters also have been wounded.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters violated some of the fundamental rules of gun safety in all the incidents.
A man was killed last Sunday in Columbia County when he was shot while passing a loaded rifle to a companion in a tree stand. Wearing mittens, she grabbed the gun near the trigger and it went off. On Monday, a hunter in Waushara County was killed by a stray bullet.
MAUSTON - Authorities are investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in Decorah Lake early Friday.
Kyle Lynch, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden for Juneau County, says he was called to the scene to assist in a boat search about 1:30 a.m. He also says the Mauston Fire Department recovered the body, which was found in the water.
The Mauston Police Department says attempts were made to rescue the individual, but the Juneau County Coroner's Office pronounced the individual dead at the scene. Police have provided few other details, and the victim's name has not been released.
TOMAH - The Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center says it has adopted another plan to improve patient care.
The La Crosse Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1QMsDMZ) that Friday's release of the "100-day plan" comes almost 11 months after media reports that veterans at the center were prescribed excessive doses of opioid pain-killers and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials.
The plan, which follows a 30-day plan announced in May, outlines steps for improving access to care, employee engagement and restoring trust.
Among other things, it calls for recruitment of psychiatric staff, employee forums and listening sessions, and opening an employee wellness center.
Several Tomah VA officials — including former Director Mario Desanctis and former Chief of Staff David Houlihan — have been fired since the problems emerged early this year.
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