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."
RHINELANDER - There was no severe weather Thursday, but sirens across the Northwoods were blaring at about 1:45 pm on Thursday.
That's because the National Weather Service held a statewide tornado drill.
It was part of their severe weather awareness week, and Oneida County took part in the drill.
"The sirens are only set off for warnings, in the city of Rhinelander, it's only going to be a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that is affecting the city area," said Oneida County Emergency Management Director Ken Kortenhof. "It's also going to be set off for a Tornado Warning affecting the area."
ACROSS THE U.S. - A new proposal from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would expand regulation on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, not regulated already by the agency.
The proposal, which was released Thursday, would regulate hookahs, nicotine gels, cigars and e-cigarettes. The FDA currently only regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.
Some smokers turn to e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking. Medical experts donít know the full health impact of e-cigarettes yet. Leaders at the FDA want to get ahead of the trend.
The proposal would make e-cigarette producers register their products and show their ingredients to the agency.
UPDATE: Police believe they made right choice in Nerf gun tickets
WAUSAU - UPDATE: 5:52pm 4/24/2014
Police believe they made the right choice handling a report of gunmen near a high school in Wausau Tuesday night.
They found out the gunmen were actually six kids playing a game with toy Nerf guns.
Police eventually ended up giving the high school seniors disorderly conduct tickets.
Some people thought the tickets were excessive, but in a press release in released Thursday by the Wausau Police Department said they "believed there was a serious, potentially life threatening situation".
Someone called the Wausau police around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.
The person said there were people pointing guns at other people in a car.
Police say they handled the situation different than a traffic stop because of the seriousness of the call.
After police got all the seniors out of the car, they saw the nerf guns.
The teens got the disorderly conduct citations because police say they caused a disruption in the neighborhood.
Leaders at Wausau West High School said in a statement that there's "potential in a game like this for negative consequences."
Some of the students have also been placed on athletic probation.
Six kids got tickets after a battle using toy Nerf guns in Wausau.
Police issued disorderly conduct citations to the high school seniors.
Some residents of Wausau called police when they saw the young people pointing a gun at a car Tuesday night.
But, it was only a toy Nerf gun that shoots foam bullets.
Wausau West High School officials have also placed some students on athletic probation.
(Copyright 2014 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)
WisDOT leaders hopeful for increase in Northwoods rail
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Railroads give businesses a chance to move loads of material for a low cost. Loggers could use rail as an alternative to trucking material, but many businesses donít get that opportunity in the Northwoods anymore.
Canadian National bought rail in the Northwoods about a decade ago. They have cut back service drastically since then.
Some counties haven't seen train travel in years, which hurts business. Now, those businesses want to reestablish rail service.
In response, a group of counties in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan formed the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission.
MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.
The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Drug addicts can look nearly everywhere to get their fix, and sometimes they can get that by raiding their family's medicine cabinet.
That's why Lac du Flambeau police gave a drug presentation at an event for the elderly Thursday.
Police leaders wanted to show seniors what could happen if they didn't keep track of their medications.
"A lot of times the elderly and older population can be victims from this. As the younger children, grandchildren, things like that are you know coming in and taking their grandparents prescription drugs," says Sarah Keuer, a nurse at Peter Christensen Health Center.
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