A bill which will help protect the citizens of Milwaukee is one step closer to becoming law.
On Thursday, the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety approved
Assembly Bill 524
by a vote of 6-4. The Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 408, was approved in committee last month. State Representative Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin and I authored the bill to address some of the concerns we've heard from law enforcement in the city of Milwaukee.
Milwaukee's police department seizes the same amount of firearms as New York City, even though New York has 15 times the population. Part of the problem is that criminals, who are not allowed to own a gun, get one from people who can legally purchase them. It's my hope this bill will help police and prosecutors crack down on criminals who skirt our laws.
The legislation clarifies current law making it illegal to be a "straw purchaser" of firearms, makes it illegal for someone to be a "human holster," and creates a mandatory minimum sentence for habitual criminals who commit a crime involving a firearm.
"Straw purchasers" are
individuals who purchase a firearm for someone who cannot legally own a gun. A "human holster" is a person who carries a gun for someone who can't legally have a gun in their possession. Our bill also
creates a four-year mandatory minimum sentence for habitual criminals, defined as someone who has committed three or more misdemeanors or one felony within a five-year period, who commit a crime using a firearm.
The City of Milwaukee has a violent crime problem involving firearms. Last year, 125 people died in gun violence and another 60 died so far in 2017.
Milwaukee is one of the state's primary economic and cultural engines.
If we want to continue to grow Wisconsin, we need to tackle the City's crime problem.
This bill is an important step forward, making it easier for prosecutors to lock up violent criminals without infringing on the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens.
Both the Senate and Assembly versions of the bill are available for scheduling for votes in both houses.