August 21, 2014

Expanding background checks on gun buyers

Law enforcement leaders want to ensure that criminals and other prohibited purchasers are prevented from obtaining guns. Hubert Williams is President of the Police Foundation. He says guns are taking a greater toll of the men and women in blue, and closing this loophole is necessary to improve their safety and that of the public. “It is time to turn off the spigot that is producing a free flow of guns to criminals.”

The Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence are joining forces to change the law to expand background checks on gun buyers.

Last year, firearms claimed more police officers’ lives in the line of duty than motor vehicles, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund. Currently only those who buy guns from a federally licensed dealer are required to pass a background check. This coalition wants to expand the requirement to all buyers, including those partaking in private sales.

Berlin Police Chief Dennis Plantz, president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, calls the idea a “no-brainer.” He says the best estimates show that nearly 40 percent of gun sales in this country are through private non-dealer sales, therefore are non regulated under current law. He says that’s illogical and dangerous. “Why should we be satisfied with a law that impacts just over half of the problem? We don’t require the wearing of seat belts just Monday through Thursday. We don’t let 40 percent of passengers bypass airport security. Likewise, we should not sell 40 percent of the firearms in this country without making a good faith effort to ensure the sale is legal.”

UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling says gun violence is a problem throughout the state and nation, not just exclusive to the bigger cities.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:46