A bill aimed at closing loopholes that let criminals who committed crimes with guns go unpunished cleared the State Senate on Tuesday. The Wisconsin State Senate unanimously approved a bill authored by State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) to address violent crimes affecting the City of Milwaukee. Senator Darling says the bill is a result of discussions with the city's police department.
"After talking with local law enforcement, it was clear they need more help putting repeat offenders behind bars," Darling said, "This legislation targets these dangerous criminals who shouldn't be carrying weapons in the first place, while still protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens."
What the bill does:
- Mandatory Minimum for Repeat Offenders: Creates a mandatory minimum sentence of four years for a repeat offender convicted of illegally possessing a firearm or committing a crime involving a firearm. The bill defines a repeat offender as an individual who has committed three misdemeanors or one felony within a five-year period. These individuals have often committed more serious crimes or crimes with firearms but plead down to lesser offenses. Milwaukee Police often say they arrest the same offenders over and over again.
- Clarify Straw Purchaser Law: Often individuals who cannot legally purchase firearms will have someone purchase a firearm on their behalf - also known as "straw purchasing." While it is already illegal to be a straw purchaser, this bill better defines the crime and makes straw purchasing a felony.
- Penalties for Human Holsters: Another loophole criminals exploit is to have someone else carry the weapon for them. This bill makes it a felony for an individual to provide or possess a firearm for a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
According to the Milwaukee Police Department, 2,420 guns were recovered in 2016, a rate of 407 per 100,000 people. Chicago, a much larger city, recovered guns at a much lower rate of 247 per 100,000 people.