MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Amid continuing debate over cutting gun violence, Republicans in control of the Wisconsin Legislature say it's unlikely the state will pass any gun-control legislation this session.
While some other states and Congress mull bans on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, or tighter background checks on buyers, Wisconsin Republicans say they will focus instead on potential gaps in the state's mental health system.
"I'd be really surprised if anything passes here in Wisconsin that would restrict gun access," said state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend. "We haven't talked about it because we're not going to do it."
Grothman, a gun owner and member of the National Rifle Association, said he is against most, if not all, of the measures President Barack Obama's administration is pushing since a gunman killed 20 first-grade students and six educators in December at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
Obama and some congressional lawmakers led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are calling for universal background checks on gun buyers, restoring a ban on military-style assault weapons and limiting the size of ammunition magazines.
Some Republicans say that's an overreaction.
"They looked at the isolated incident in Connecticut, which a horrible thing, and all of a sudden say we have to change our constitution," Grothman said. "We have more guns but less problems in Wisconsin."
Federal data show Wisconsin had 80 firearm murders in 2011, down from 97 the year before. Nationally, firearm murders have dropped in recent years; the number was in 8,583 in 2011, down from 10,129 in 2007. Calculating the level of gun ownership in Wisconsin is more difficult since the state doesn't require firearm registration.
The low profile on gun legislation in Madison comes despite two major attacks in the state in the past year.
In August, a white supremacist shot six worshippers inside a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a Milwaukee suburb, before killing himself. The man's semi-automatic handgun was legally acquired.
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