“My parents were both in the U.S. Air Force. My father loved guns. My mother hated guns. From an early age, I felt the tension and emotion between people who disagree on firearms. From my Dad, I learned a love of the shooting sports. From my mother, I learned the multigenerational effects of gun violence.

My record in the Senate reflects my personal experiences in finding common ground. If we, as a society, are not willing to work with those with whom we disagree to accomplish something, we will accomplish nothing. And, we will continue to grow farther apart.” -Kathleen Vinehout


My mother hated guns because her father died through gun violence. My father loved guns and collected them. In his retirement, he ran a small business fixing other people’s firearms.

From my mother, I learned fear of a gun in the hands of those with some type of mental illness or those with criminal intent. I understood the multi-generational effects of gun violence, the struggles of those with suicidal intent and the horror, confusion and guilt of those left behind.

From my father, I learned a love of the shooting sports. I understood those who study the history and mechanisms of firearms, those who thrill at perfecting marksmanship skills.

From an early age, I felt the tension between preventing gun violence and protecting gun ownership. My experience in the Senate reflects my personal experiences. I’ve taken a balanced approach to voting on gun related legislation. I’ve worked across the aisle to protect women suffering from domestic violence. I support a person’s defense of their home under clear threat but not Florida style – “Stand Your Ground” legislation. I support conceal and carry but not Constitutional – or Permit-less – Carry. I don’t support expanding Conceal and Carry to schools or universities. I oppose arming teachers in schools. I support universal background checks including for private sales.

I support local control and have a history of voting against firearm bills that would take away local powers. What works in Milwaukee may not work in Mondovi.


Frequently Asked Questions

Donation from the NRA?

Seven days before the 2014 election, an unsolicited check for $500 from the NRA was received by Voters for Vinehout and the campaign used those funds the same way it used all the other contributions it received from donors.

During my time in the Senate, I voted both for and against the NRA, just as I have with legislation supported, or not, by hundreds of other groups. As Senator, I voted on the merits of each bill as I saw them, regardless of who is supporting and who is opposing.

Your stand on Background Checks and Bump Stocks?

I support and voted for a Democratic amendment to provide universal background checks including private sales. I support and voted for (in the same amendment) a ban on any device, including “bump stocks”, that alters a semi-automatic to make it fire like an automatic weapon. 

Waiting Periods?

The 48-hour waiting period for the purchase of handguns that had been law since 1976 was repealed in 2015 and all lawmakers (Democrats and Republicans) unanimously voted for its repeal. The waiting period was created to allow time to complete background checks that relied on paper records and took time to do. With the National Instant Criminal Background System, checks take a few minutes to an hour. There was no longer a need to wait for completion of a background check.

To create a law requiring a 48-hour waiting period for the sale of all guns would be a new policy for Wisconsin and deserves its own bill and public hearing. I feel pursuing universal background checks is a much stronger policy to prevent gun violence than a 48-hour waiting period for the purchase of all firearms. The latter policy would have the unintended consequence of, for the most part, shutting down gun shows and private sales, that much of the time involve historic and collector guns. A universal background check policy can, however, be structured to include private sales and gun shows. I was the author of the language in the Democratic Senate amendment that provided for universal background checks. I voted for that amendment and the other provisions in the amendment, which among other things prohibited devices that make a semi-automatic weapon fire like a fully automatic weapon.

Thoughts on Gun Control Debate and your recent votes in the Senate?

In a world where absolutes drive us further apart, the path to conversation and resolution is narrow and thorny. If we want to make progress on this or any divisive issue, we need to identify and push for those things where progress can be made while we continue to grapple with those things that will not immediately be successful.

In the Wisconsin Senate’s floor session on March 20, 2018 I advocated for and voted with my Democratic colleagues to expand background checks using the Department of Justice and creating an innovative preauthorization check. Some version of this idea had a chance of passage as was evidenced by the similarities between my amendment and the Assembly GOP version that passed a few days later. Read More Here

My goal is to accomplish those things that are possible and continue to work towards those things that are still thorny. If we, as a society, are not willing to work with those with whom we disagree to accomplish something, we will continue to accomplish nothing. And, we will continue to grow farther and farther apart.

I look for ways to find solutions within the tension of seeming polar opposites sitting side by side.


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