Another bill dealing with illegal guns is proposed at the Capitol. It’s an issue that’s gotten more attention since two Milwaukee police officers were shot this summer, with a gun that had changed hands for forty dollars. State Representative Jon Richards, a Milwaukee Democrat, says the bill creates a new penalty, for those who give or sell guns over to people who aren’t allowed to have guns.
“Someone goes in (to a gun store), buys a gun, has no intention of keeping the gun, and turns it over to someone who shouldn’t be using it, like someone who has a history of violent crimes,” explains Richard. That’s called a “straw purchase,” and it’s also the target of legislation from a Republican lawmaker, Representative Scott Gunderson, who has authored a bill to make such buys – currently only a misdemeanor – a felony.
“We’ve been talking to Representative Gunderson over the last few months, but what we’re talking about is something the police departments and the prosecutors definitely want. If we can work with Representative Gunderson, that would be great.”
Richards says this proposal (a companion bill in the Senate is proposed by Milwaukee Democrat Spencer Coggs) differs from the legislation already being offered by Gunderson. “All that does is make the penalty for a crime already on the books, stiffer,” says the Milwaukee Democrat. “This creates a new crime, a new type of crime, that addresses a situation that’s happening all over the place, certainly in the city of Milwaukee.”
The bill would require prompt reporting of lost or stolen guns. Richards says straw purchasers often use theft or loss as an excuse, to cover illegal gun buys. “All they have to say is ‘well, my gun was lost or stolen, and what can I do?’ Well, this puts an affirmative duty on people to say that, if you’re gun was in fact lost or stolen, you need to report that within 48 hours,” Richards explains. Failure to do that could mean up ninety days in jail or a thousand dollar fine.