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Walker wants gun issue keyed on mental health

Governor visits Ashwaubenon after State of State speech

Jan. 16, 2013
 
GPG_ES_Gov. Walker_1.16.13
Gov. Scott Walker speaks to the media during his 2013 State of the State Tour stop at Executive Air at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon on Wednesday. / Evan Siegle/Gannett Wisconsin Media

ASHWAUBENON — Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday stressed an emphasis on mental health to prevent mass shootings like the recent slaughter of elementary students at a Connecticut elementary school.

“The focus should be on mental-health status,” Walker said when asked about stricter gun-control measures proposed Wednesday by the Obama administration. The governor said some people “will look at extreme measures” to prevent violence, but that “a consistent theme (among perpetrators) is someone who has fallen through the cracks of the mental-health system.”

The president earlier had called for background checks on all gun sales, and reinstating and strengthening a ban on sales of assault weapons that was in place from the mid-1990s until 2004. Walker said he had just begun to review Obama’s plan, but said he believes the focus of legislation to prevent mass shootings like those in Connecticut and at a Sikh house of worship in Oak Creek “should be on the evil inherent in the person” who commits the act, rather than the tool he uses.

The Republican governor was in Brown County on the first leg of a tour to reinforce his State of the State message from Tuesday, and to lay groundwork for the state budget he will release this winter. He plans to continue the tour today in Schofield, La Crosse and Superior.

“We’re in a much better position to invest in our core priorities,” Walker said during a 30-minute stop in the Executive Air hangar at Austin Straubel International Airport. He cited a declining jobless rate as evidence that his economic policies are boosting the state’s economy.

He also said his next state budget will lay the framework for tax breaks that will be particularly helpful to Wisconsinites who earn between $20,000 and $200,000 per year, but did not reveal details.

Democrats have continued this week to criticize Walker’s record. State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, said Walker is “failing miserably” on the jobs issue.

“Under Governor Walker’s watch, our state has fallen to 42nd in the nation for job creation,” Hansen said. “Only eight states are doing worse than Wisconsin and all of our neighbors are doing better.”

Walker also said his budget would include investments in infrastructure and education, and renewed his support for a mining bill he said would pave the way for about 3,000 permanent jobs in northern Wisconsin.

— Doug Schneider writes for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

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