CAMBRIDGE — A Cambridge pastor will be a key voice in a statewide discussion about gun regulation in Madison Thursday.

The Rev. Scott Marrese-Wheeler of Oakland Cambridge Presbyterian Church helped organize and will speak at a gun violence rally on the steps of the state Capitol, in support of two gun-regulation bills being considered by state lawmakers.

The 80 Percent For Strong Gun Laws Rally is to take place at 1 p.m. Thursday outside the west entrance of the state Capitol.

Other speakers were expected to include Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and advocates from gun violence prevention groups such as March for Our Lives, Moms Demand Action and Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort.

Gov. Tony Evers called the state Legislature into a special session that is to begin Thursday by signing an executive order on Oct. 21. One of the proposed laws legislators are being asked to consider would require universal background checks for purchasing guns in Wisconsin. The other would create extreme risk protection orders, limiting access to guns when people are in crisis.

Marrese-Wheeler is one of many faith leaders and gun regulation advocates from across the state who were gathering Thursday to push for the laws to be passed.

“It’s a constant, it’s a health crisis, it’s an epidemic,” Marrese-Wheeler said.

In October, Marrese-Wheeler organized a gun violence community discussion at Oakland Cambridge Presbyterian Church to talk about the impact of gun violence locally.

“I’m pastoring the church in a small town, Cambridge, and we want to be heard too,” Marrese-Wheeler said.

“It still does touch our lives and impact us. So, for me, it’s being representative of our community within the state, and giving a presence and a voice from a faith perspective to this issue,” he continued.

Marrese-Wheeler said the issue has been part of his life for more than 25 years.

As a pastor, “I’ve had funerals particularly for individuals who have used guns to take their own lives,” Marrese-Wheeler said in an interview. “I’ve walked into worship multiple times to see news popping up on my phone of a new mass shooting.”

As a substitute teacher in the McFarland School District, he also has “seen the emotional impact” of intruder drills and threats of school violence,” Marrese-Wheeler said.

Marrese-Wheeler said his message Thursday will be that it’s time for more than thoughts and prayers, that people need to take action.

“Our presence has become what prayer looks like,” Marrese-Wheeler said.

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