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Milwaukee Semi-Auto Ban Referendum Passes as Truth Dies

| November 9, 2022

Photo by HOBOPOCC. Image has been cropped.

WGO blasts the county-level referendum as a mockery of objective truth and an assault on statistical norms.

Milwaukee, Wis. — In yesterday’s 2022 midterm election, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors released a county-level referendum advisory question asking if the State of Wisconsin should ban semi-automatic firearms. The question, asked in a heavily biased and left-leaning county, passed.

Specifically, the question asked: Should the Wisconsin Legislature prohibit the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of semi-automatic “military-style” firearms whose prohibition is allowed under the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions?

The question was aimed at AR-15s and other “military-style assault weapons,” which progressives can’t help but misrepresent and demonize.

Milwaukee County voters passed the referendum question 69% to 31% on November 8. The question — posed in a Democrat-leaning county with the highest crime rate and the lowest understanding of the effects of gun control — is advisory in nature and has no legal teeth.

Still, the charade highlights the depths to which anti-gun sycophants will stoop to distort the truth and get their way.

In a WUWM story, Paul Nolette, associate professor of political science and department chair at Marquette University, claims that such referenda tend to “be the more prominent form of direct democracy in Wisconsin.”

While WGO doesn’t dispute that point, the Milwaukee referenda (a second question asked about marijuana legalization) were conducted in a statistically meaningless way that failed to control for bias.

According to, while Milwaukee County wasn’t the most partisan county in the state (that distinction went to Menomonee Co., with 89% of the vote going to Biden and the Democratic Party in the last election), it still was among the most partisan with 69.1% of the vote going to Biden.

In other words, Milwaukee County is not representative of the entire state of Wisconsin.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the referendum question pertained to the second half of the wording, which asserted, “…whose prohibition is allowed under the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions?”

“It’s simply incorrect to assert that a prohibition on semi-automatic firearms is allowed by the federal or Wisconsin constitutions,” noted Corey Graff, executive director of Wisconsin Gun Owners, Inc. (WGO). “Why is there no fact-checking required of referendum questions? Why mislead voters like that?”

However, professor Nolette further muddied the waters, stating, “There isn’t anything in the constitutional language itself that explains what prohibitions are allowed (or not allowed) … In McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court … left open the door for states to regulate guns in other ways. For example, most states (and the feds) have specific categories of guns that are not for commercial use (such as fully automatic weapons used by the U.S. military). There are also other types of limits states have placed on guns – and it isn’t clear where the line between ‘acceptable’ and ‘unconstitutional’ limitations are, because the Constitution doesn’t say explicitly, and neither have the courts.”

Nolette fails to grasp the clear language of the Second Amendment to the federal Bill of Rights itself (“… shall not be infringed”) and Section 25 of the Wisconsin Constitution (The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose. [1995 J.R. 27, 1997 J.R. 21, vote Nov. 1998]).

But even more troubling is how those who support centralized power conveniently glob onto the U.S. Supreme Court’s incorrect decisions and statements when convenient to their cause and misrepresent the nature of a federalist system.

As WGO has noted for years, the entire Bill of Rights is a check and balance on federal power – not a limit on the states and not an instrument granting rights but an enumeration of pre-existing natural rights.

If statewide residents were asked this question across all counties (accounting for partisan biases), its result might go the other way. The political left continues to play the same dishonest games as the establishment right (which often calls for so-called “reasonable restrictions” on guns).

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