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Gov. Walker Eliminates Gun Waiting Period In Wisconsin, But GOP Is Wary Of Other Policies

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Jun 25, 2015 9:15PM

In an effort to further brandish his conservative credentials before announcing a seemingly-inevitable run for the presidency, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill into law that makes it easier to purchase guns in the state.

Walker, whose policies to expand gun rights have been heralded by the National Rifle Association, signed legislation that eliminates the 48 hour waiting period once mandatory before purchasing a handgun in the state, according to the Chicago Tribune. The waiting period had been on the books in the state since 1976. Currently, ten states, including Illinois, impose waiting periods prior to purchasing a handgun.

Walker also signed a law permitting off-duty, retired and out-of-state police officers to carry firearms on school grounds. He made a point during a bill-signing ceremony to draw a distinction between this law and the recent murders in Charleston, South Carolina, which he told reporters his office scheduled before the shooting.

Walker said in his speech:

"If we had pulled back on this, I think it would have given people the erroneous opinion that what we signed into law today had anything to do with what happened in Charleston. We need to denounce not just the acts, but to denounce the beliefs that he had. This was a racist, evil man who needs to be called out ... this should be unacceptable in America."

Chicago law enforcement officials have long decried lax gun laws in Wisconsin and Indiana as the source of gun violence in the city. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told USA Today that, "Even with the strongest partnerships and best policing in the world, without better state and federal laws to help keep illegal guns off the streets, we will continue to face an uphill battle."

This marks the latest in a long line of policies enacted by Walker to turn Wisconsin into one of the most actively conservative states in the country, including polices to reject an expanded Medicaid program under Obamacare, require drug tests for welfare recipients, lower taxes, decrease public education funding, gut unions and call for a 20-week abortion ban with no exceptions for rape and incest. However, the conservative branding has made enemies even among fellow Republicans in the state, the New York Times recently reported.

Robin Vos, the speaker of the State Assembly, recently accused Walker of avoiding an "adult conversation" on how to finance the state's infrastructure, in response to his decision not to raise fees to pay for road and bridge projects. State Senator Luther Olsen accused Walker of "bashing one of the best things in the state of Wisconsin" after he cut funding for the University of Wisconsin. And State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader, told the Times that he would not be able to garner enough votes to pass the governor's budget because it slashed funding to important services.

"We're trying to figure out how to get out of the box," Fitzgerald said.