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Ron Johnson says he doesn't back bipartisan gun control legislation because of red flag law grants

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U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Wednesday he will not support a gun control measure that a bipartisan group of lawmakers is heralding as the most effective of its kind in decades because it includes grants for a program that would allow judges to block certain people deemed safety risks from owning firearms.

“This bill provides resources to states to adopt red flag laws without requiring sufficient due process to those accused — thereby eroding 2nd amendment protections,” Johnson said in a statement. “I simply cannot support it.”

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on Tuesday evening voted against advancing the legislation, which also enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21, includes new federal gun-trafficking offenses and expands an existing law preventing people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun. Fourteen Republicans voted in favor of advancing the legislation Tuesday, which passed the Senate 64-34, including some who said the legislation didn’t conflict with the Second Amendment.

“Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, also voted in favor of advancing the measure.

“I stand on the side of taking action and this is a positive step forward that can help protect people from gun violence, help reduce mass shootings, and help save lives,” Baldwin said in a statement.

Under the proposed legislation, a federal Department of Justice grant program would be expanded to include funding for red flag laws as well as drug courts, mental health courts and veterans courts. Under red flag laws, courts can temporarily remove guns from people whom law enforcement or others deem risks to themselves or others.

The red flag law program is explicitly structured in the legislation to avoid violating the U.S. Constitution.

The program, the bill text states, must include “pre-deprivation and post-deprivation due process rights that prevent any violation or infringement of the Constitution of the United States.”

Johnson’s objections are similar to those of Republican state lawmakers who rejected a special session by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to pass red flag laws, as well as universal background checks, in 2019. Republican leaders called the bills an infringement on Second Amendment rights and ended the special session just seconds after it began.

Democratic senators rejected Johnson’s effort last month to codify the Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety, which includes recommendations for making schools safer with information on bullying, emergency planning, mental health and other topics. That measure called for the clearinghouse to include information about threat prevention, preparedness, protection, mitigation, incident response and recovery.

“It’s a good idea,” Johnson said at the time. “It could save lives. It is an action, when people are calling for action following this tragedy.”

But U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blocked action on the bill, saying he would focus instead on a measure that would authorize federal agencies to monitor, analyze, investigate and prosecute domestic terrorists. Republicans subsequently blocked that measure.

Top 10 Wisconsin political stories of 2021 (based on what you, the readers, read)

2021 was another big year in Wisconsin politics. Sen. Ron Johnson said some things. Voters elected a new state superintendent. Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans clashed over mask mandates. Michael Gableman threatened to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay. Here are 10 political stories you, the readers, checked out in droves.

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Since the start of the outbreak, Gov. Tony Evers has issued multiple public health emergencies and a series of related orders. 

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Sen. Ron slammed the impeachment over the weekend as “vindictive and divisive,” and possibly a “diversionary operation” by Democrats to distract from security lapses at the U.S. Capitol.

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"I wouldn’t run if I don’t think I could win," said Johnson, who is undecided on a re-election bid. 

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The board had previously not required masks in schools after some in the public voiced opposition.

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With a new order announced, Republicans may be forced to start the process all over again to vote down the governor's emergency order and accompanying mask mandate, but the most likely outcome appears to be an eventual court decision.

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Fort McCoy officials acknowledge there were initial problems with food supply, but that and other issues are being addressed.

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The idea is in its infancy and all options, including declining to pursue anything, are on the table.

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Gableman has asked the court, which plans to take up the matter on Dec. 22, to compel the two mayors to meet with him.

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Deborah Kerr said she has also voted for Republicans and tells GOP audiences on the campaign trail for the officially nonpartisan race that she is a "pragmatic Democrat."

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Limbaugh died Wednesday at 70.

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