Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.

Dear Editor,

In the first 47 days of this year there have been 67 mass shootings.  The recent Michigan State University shooting has added one more to the almost 1000 incidents of gunfire at schools and colleges since the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Many of our state legislators insist that our country’s gun violence top ranking in the world is due to the shooters and not the ready availability of firearms. Does that mean they will heed Governor Evers’ call for at least $500 million dollars in the next state budget to expand mental health services? 

Of our country’s  2,275  K  – 12  school shootings since 1970, 59% were committed by people under age 21. Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings since 2018 have been carried out by people in that young age group.

Our pre-K through 12 public schools serve 807,000 children, the vast majority of our state’s students. These schools miss significantly the recommended ratio of both psychologists and social workers to students.  We are not currently meeting our children’s mental health needs.

Will state legislators who tout mental health as the main cause of gun violence support increased funding for our public schools where the most students with mental health problems can be identified and helped?  Or will they pursue their stated goal of increasing funding for private school vouchers serving only a very small number of students, draining public school coffers, and placing an unfair burden on thousands of taxpayers and their children who live where private schools are geographically or otherwise inaccessible.

Polls show a majority of Wisconsin citizens favor firearm laws stricter than currently exist in our state. Our legislators need to act according to sensible voices that know we can maintain our appeal as a state friendly to sportsmen and women while passing gun legislation and a budget that will bolster our reputation as a state that cares about the safety and full well being of our children and families. 

Jean Fisher, Wausau