Proposed legislation would increase penalties for straw purchases – buying weapons for those who aren’t allowed to have them. State Representative Scott Gunderson says under existing state law, buying a gun and then giving it to someone who’s prohibited from having one is just a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time and fines.
“We have to put some teeth into this, to tell these people who are breaking the law – and knowingly breaking the law – that if you do this, you have a great chance of being charged with a felony and going to prison for up to five years,” says the Waterford Republican. “We have a problem, especially when we look at the Milwaukee area, where people are . . . legally purchasing a firearm, but then illegally transferring it to someone who cannot possess it, whether it’s someone under the age of 21, or someone who’s a felon.”
Gunderson, who first authored similar legislation a decade ago, hopes this session sees it passed and signed into law. “I don’t care if the Democrats in the Assembly or the Senate think they have a problem with a Republican being the author of this bill,” he says. “This isn’t a partisan issue at all.”
Gunderson concedes that it can be difficult for law enforcement to prove that guns are knowingly transferred. “But in the cases where we absolutely know somebody willingly went in and bought a firearm to give to a felon . . . we need to go after those people,” says Gunderson. “We need to send a message.” So far, the bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing.