Legislation being proposed at the Capitol would toughen penalties for those who purchase firearms for individuals who can’t legally have them, and for those who knowlingly accept guns through such straw purchases.
Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward Flynn says his officers are going up against drug dealers and gang bangers who are often just as well armed as they are, yet buying and accepting the guns in most cases results in a misdemeanor charge. “Our bad guys are walking around armed,” Flynn told a state Senate committee this week. “And an awful lot of them are in fact felons whose cases got downgraded in a plea bargain. It’s a fact of life, it can’t be helped. But the point is they’re carrying firearms routinely. They can get arrested time after time after time and it remains a misdemeanor.”
Chief Ed Flynn (20:00 MP3) AUDIO: Chief Ed Flynn (20:00 MP3)
Flynn says guns used to shoot six Milwaukee officers were purchased at a single shop: Badger Guns. And who are the straw buyers? Retired ATF agent Brad Hayes, who spent fifteen years in Milwaukee, says they’re often the clients of drug dealers. “You have the person who is using drugs, who may be addicted to drugs, and . . . their drug pusher says ‘I’ll give you $800 worth of cocaine if you’ll go and buy me a $400 nine millimeter.'”
Flynn and Hayes testified in support of a bill (SB 611) which would make it a felony to knowingly purchase a handgun for someone who is prohibited from having one, and makes it a felony to accept a straw purchased weapon.