A bipartisan group of state legislators is taking an important step to make Milwaukee streets safer and keep guns out of of the hands of criminals. The group’s proposal deserves the support of citizens, other legislators and the governor, and should become law.
The proposed bill would make it a felony for anyone who has had three misdemeanor convictions in five years to possess a gun and would make it a felony to buy a gun with the intent of giving it to someone who can’t legally possess a firearm, known as “straw purchasing,” or to give a firearm to — or possess one for — someone banned from having a gun. It also would make lying about being a straw purchaser on a state notification form a felony.
This is legislation that city of Milwaukee officials have been seeking for several years, and for which we’ve advocated. Its intent is not to infringe on anyone’s constitutionally guaranteed gun rights. Its intent is simply to keep guns away from bad guys — or at least to make bad guys and their friends think twice about getting a gun.
The proposed bill’s sponsors are Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) in the state Senate, and Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) and David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) in the Assembly.
“This bill gives prosecutors more opportunities to take criminals off the street,” said Darling in a statement. “We’ve worked together with local officials for months to find a bipartisan solution that will make Milwaukee safer.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett lauded the bill and its sponsors last week, and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said the proposal would bring tougher penalties for repeat offenders.
That could make a real difference in areas plagued by crime. But be sure to note the bipartisan support for this measure, and the fact that state and local officials came together to make this happen. That’s certainly a promising sign for this proposal — and for more cooperation between groups that too often find each other on opposite sides of a political divide.