Last weekend, I attended the second annual “Dontre Day” in Milwaukee to recognize a man whose life was brought to a tragic end after he was fatally shot by a former Milwaukee police officer. The event, which coincides with the anniversary of his death, was established by Dontre Hamilton’s family. With courage, they share their story and heartbreak, advocating for improved community relations and an end to unnecessary violence. To preach peace and understanding in the face of adversity is powerful, and a reminder that violence is never the answer.

Sadly, Dontre’s memorial was shadowed by another tragic loss. Last week a Milwaukee woman was fatally shot by her two-year-old son after he found a gun in the car she was driving. She leaves behind a grieving family, including three small children. This accident, while devastating, was not unique. The Washington Post recently reported that already in 2016, toddlers have accidentally shot at least 23 people, several of them fatally.

Dontre Hamilton
Dontre Hamilton

Gun violence does not discriminate; whether it be an accident or intentional, it wreaks havoc on our families and communities. It happens, as a result of inefficient safety standards, poor training, and miscommunication. Gun violence is pervasive in Milwaukee; every day citizens are put at unnecessary risk because laws do not adequately protect them.

In the past year, I successfully lobbied President Obama to address gun violence at the federal level, but I believe there is still significant work to be done in our State Legislature. This session, I authored common-sense reforms that would strengthen and protect our communities and our state. This legislation seeks to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people by implementing universal background checks and lethal violence protective orders. I believe it is imperative to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, so my legislation also seeks to keep guns out of schools, medical offices, and parks.

We have a duty to keep our communities as safe and secure as possible from gun violence. However, lives continue to be lost to violent shootings at a shockingly record pace, and elected officials across our state and our nation continue to turn a blind eye to this tragic and growing epidemic.

With the help of dedicated citizens and committed legislators, calls for peace and justice will not go unanswered. The dialogue has begun, but it is crucial that our communities remain engaged. Voices and votes hold the utmost power; we must elect leaders at all levels of government who will take a firm stand against senseless and preventable gun violence.

When we talk about moving Wisconsin forward and building a strong middle class, attention should be paid to keeping our communities safe and secure from violence. Anything short of ensuring safety and security for all Wisconsinites constitutes a complete lack of leadership and a disservice to the citizens of this great state. I am committed to efforts and policies that will result in a safe and thriving Milwaukee.