The attack came without warning and, as far as Jessica “Jesi” Ewers could tell, without provocation.

It was early in the morning of Oct.19, 2020. Asleep at her home in the Town of Sun Prairie, she woke up to her boyfriend, James “J.T.” Budworth, beating her. He punched her, tried to strangle her, destroyed her cellphone and threatened to kill her and her children. He also bit her, once on the collarbone and once on the arm, where he tore off a chunk of flesh.

Jesi Ewers

On Dec. 28, 2020, Jesi Ewers of Town of Sun Prairie near Cottage Grove, was shot to death by her boyfriend James “J.T.” Budworth. He had been ordered to relinquish his firearms after attacking Ewers two months earlier. But under Wisconsin’s “honor system,” Budworth did not turn over all of his guns, using one of them to kill Ewers, then himself. “Our Mom was as free-spirited as they come,” says her daughter Sati Ewers-Kubly. “She lived with passion and creativity; she was a talented artist, and was known for the beautiful willow trees she loved to paint.”

Lisa Subeck

State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, speaks during a press conference at the Wisconsin State Capitol in 2017. Subeck has been pushing for Wisconsin to adopt a law matching federal law, which prohibits people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning guns.


Poe- Gavlinski

Elise Schaffer


Milwaukee shooting

A memorial to five people shot to death on April 27, 2020 is seen on North 12th Street in Milwaukee, Wis. Christopher P. Stokes was previously convicted of felony domestic violence in 2012 and was prohibited from owning firearms. Part of the problem, experts say, is that background checks are not required for all gun purchases in Wisconsin, potentially allowing felons like Stokes to acquire firearms despite their history.

Waukesha gun show

Ron Martin’s booth at the Badger Military Collectible Show displays a set of rifles in Waukesha, Wis., in 2016. As a licensed gun dealer, Martin is required to run a criminal background check on all purchasers. But in Wisconsin, unlicensed dealers and individuals can sell firearms without a background check.

Josh Kaul