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Police Association poll shows mixed results on gun control issues

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WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  A new poll shows a deep divide among Wisconsinites over the issue of stricter gun laws. The Wisconsin Professional Police Association worked with St. Norbert College to survey the state’s residents.

Executive Director Jim Palmer says the association wanted to find out just what people around the state thought about several issues. “On gun laws, and we also wanted to get some idea from the general public about how they feel about public safety in this state, and I think we’ve learned some very valuable information.”

Palmer says the gun control issue is very complicated, and the survey shows the state’s residents and the state’s cops both have mixed feelings about more gun control. “What we found was that the public is very, very evenly divided on this issue, and that’s reflective of our own view, and I think it shows the gun control issue and gun violence issue is very complicated and is going to require a multi-faceted and broad-based approach.”

In the last couple of years, Palmer says law enforcement officers are accepting some changes in light of reduced municipal and state budgets, without sacrificing public protection. “In Wausau, the officers have agreed to move to 12-hour shifts, and they’re now paying a pension contribution, so I think law enforcement officers all across the state are engaging in that kind of activity.”

The Association is hopeful the Wisconsin state budget can help fund additional assistant District Attorney positions. Palmer says, “Law enforcement officers put their personal safety at great risk in order to enforce the law, and they would like to see the people they arrest prosecuted.” Several counties in Wisconsin are short staffed in the prosecutor’s offices, and many counties have a backlog of cases.

The survey found that more older residents support stricter gun laws than younger residents. When it comes to stricter laws for the sale of firearms, 47% favor stricter sales laws, 43% are happy with existing laws, 8% want less strict laws, and 3% are undecided.

People in Wisconsin are overall giving their local police departments a high approval rating. They also place keeping communities safe from crime as their top priority.

The poll by St. Norbert College sampled 400 Wisconsin residents, and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5%.

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