Jeramey Jannene

Nearly One Gun Crime Per Household in West Milwaukee

By - Sep 29th, 2009 12:26 am
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The Village of West Milwaukee has a population of 4,201 people according to the 2000 census, which translates into 2,059 households.  From January 2006 until September 1st, 2009 the Village of West Milwaukee exported at least 1,880 guns that were used to commit crimes in the City of Milwaukee.

Statistically-speaking, everyday since January 2006 the Village of West Milwaukee has supplied at least one gun used to commit a crime in the City of Milwaukee.

Logistically then, it seems the easiest solution would be to simply build a fence around West Milwaukee, and check for guns at each entry/exit checkpoint.  Obviously that’s a pretty stupid solution for a whole lot of reasons.  However, it would appear that doing so would drastically reduce the amount of gun crime in the City of Milwaukee.  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.  People want guns, and will seek out a place to buy them.

Statistics and Iron-Curtain-style solutions aside, what is going on in the Village of West Milwaukee?  It turns out that a single gun store known as Badger Guns (and formerly as Badger Outdoors) sells an awful lot of guns.  Selling a lot of guns in and of itself isn’t a problem.  The problem with Badger Guns is how they sell their guns, and who they sell them to.

Of those previously mentioned 1,880 guns, the shooters of those weapons were certainly not all first time criminals.  In fact in a recent operation conducted by the Milwaukee Police Department numerous felons were frequently observed going in and out of the store.  From those observations, MPD was able to seize 12 weapons, and discovered that felons have been using the shooting range at the store for target practice.

Police Chief Edward Flynn had some choice comments on the matter and owner Adam Allan that ran in a Journal Sentinel story that brought the problems with the store to light.

“I had an enough-is-enough moment,” Flynn said. “They know to whom they are selling, they know what is happening with their product, they know citizens in Milwaukee are dying, and they don’t care.”

“(Allan) clearly doesn’t care a damn about the demographics of dead Milwaukeeans,” Flynn said. “To try to wrap himself as a victim of racism is not only absurd, it is obscene.”

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who appears to be just about as big of fan of Badger Guns as Chief Flynn, has offered up straight forward solutions on how Badger Guns can clean up their act.

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm said Badger can and must do more to prevent illegal gun sales. As the former head of the office’s gun unit, Chisholm has intimate knowledge of the store’s operation.

“All we are asking is that they be professional,” Chisholm said. “Their public service would be to do everything in their professional skill to prevent a sale to someone who will turn around and put that gun on the street to commit violence. They have the skill to do it. I suspect they choose not to do that more than they do.”

Allan said he doesn’t want to have felons in his store.

“I would prefer that they not be here, but unless they put an F on someone’s driver license, I don’t know they have a felony,” he said.

Chisholm countered that Allan could require everyone who enters his store to show ID and be checked in a publicly available database for felony convictions. At a minimum, felons should be run so they cannot be allowed to take target practice at the store, the district attorney said.

If the gun store were a tavern in the City of Milwaukee it likely would have been closed by now.  Frequently all it takes is one shooting and a tavern license is at the very least suspended by the Common Council Licenses Committee.  Ironically, it’s likely that a gun supplied by Badger Guns has been used in at least one shooting that resulted in a bar being closed in Milwaukee. But alas, the store is in the Village of West Milwaukee and here we are.

Adam Allan, who could just as easily have the police off his back by complying with suggestions from Chisholm, appears more content to simply put up inflammatory signs indicating that MPD is the bad guy, instead of his business practices, which from all reports seem to be rather negligent.

The eloquent sign reads "Racist Milwaukee Polcie Dep is pulling over African Americans leaving this store.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

The eloquent sign reads “Racist Milwaukee Police Dep is pulling over African Americans leaving this store. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Crime in Milwaukee is an oft-criticized facet of the city by suburban residents, and it’s shameful to see a suburb willing to profit from fueling the fire.  It’s time for Badger Guns to clean up its act, so MPD can continue to work to clean up the streets.

Kudos to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for bringing the situation forward.

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15 thoughts on “Nearly One Gun Crime Per Household in West Milwaukee”

  1. Mike Poe says:

    I don’t see how Badger Guns can be responsible for the gun violence just because the weapon came from their store. I’m sure they are not deliberately selling to criminals.

    The emphasis needs to be put on the individuals buying the gun. Every gun has to be registered to someone right? If I go out and buy a chainsaw Menards and murder someone, is it Menard’s responsibility?

    The straw buyer needs to be just accountable as the criminal in the event of a shooting crime!

  2. matthew says:

    how about a waiting period to buy a gun.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Mike Poe surely a straw buyer should be held responsible as well, but the fact is that Badger Guns sells guns at an unusually high rate that end up as part of a crime. Other dealers don’t seems to have these kind of statistics so there is something going on here that needs to be resolved.

  4. Mike Poe says:

    Badger Guns proximity is what is hurting them. They are really one of very few stores to buy a firearm in the city.

    Honestly this is very tough to fix. Shutting them down only means criminals will obtain a weapon from another location.

  5. Jesse Hagen says:

    If proximity were the issue, why is this true:

    “537 – guns linked to crimes around the nation were sold by Badger in 2005, the most in the nation.”
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/61985627.html

    or this:

    “Badger Guns and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, have accounted for one-third of crime guns recovered by Milwaukee police over the past four years, according to gun-trace data. The next closest Milwaukee-area gun shop accounted for less than 3% of crime guns in the same period.”

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/62764582.html

  6. Beige says:

    I keep reading about this, but no one ever specifies what exactly Badger gun is doing differently from other stores, or what, specifically, they would like Badger gun to start doing. It seems to be believed that there is some reason they sell so many guns that end up in crimes, beyond just selling lots of guns in general or being near a city. But no one says what. What is it that Chisholm wants? I’m genuinely curious about this.

  7. As a gun user myself, I’ve been to Badger a few times. It’s really not the crime den the newspaper wishes it was. I’ve actually been in the store when they told people to leave for acting sketchy or even for smelling too much like pot. They frequently watch the cars in their parking lot with binoculars to make sure the shopper’s “friend” isn’t waiting outside. They DO take many precautions, but they also don’t want to insult their legitimate customers or engage in improper profiling.

    I agree with Beige. I haven’t seen any constructive suggestions that aren’t massively invasive or impractical. Gun buyers have their privacy invaded enough during the buying process, now they want a background check just for shopping? Try getting stores like Gander Mountain or Cabelas to go along with that and see how far away you can hear the laughter.

  8. Jesse Hagen says:

    Of course you’re not going to find suggestions about how to properly run a gun store on here. How many people that frequent this site own a gun, let alone have been in a gun shop.

    Badger Guns needs to be doing whatever every other gun shop is doing that somehow allows them to make a profit and not have every other gun that moves out their door used in a crime.

    Asking how to run a gun shop on this website is like walking into best buy and asking them how to fix your plumbing. You don’t have to know how to fix it to know you shouldn’t have leaks.

  9. @Jesse: It’s not just this site that has no ideas. The JS has no ideas. The city councils have no ideas. The gun store itself has no ideas. The only suggestion I’ve seen is background checking every customer, and that will never fly. Clearly there is no good solution here and we should pursue other avenues for reducing gun crime. Cue the concealed carry debate.

  10. Jesse Hagen says:

    @Daniel, if there is no good solution, then why has literally every other gun store found it?

  11. @Jesse I don’t believe that they have. Look at the statistics for number of gun stores in cities with crime rates similar to Milwaukee. There are only four gun stores in Milwaukee County; an extremely low number. Of course the sales are going to be unfairly concentrated. I don’t believe you’ve discredited the proximity argument either. Badger is the first place felons go to shop for a gun. If they succeed in a straw buy, can you prove that they would NOT have succeeded at Shooter’s Shop?

  12. Jesse Hagen says:

    Now you’re just getting into hyptheticals.

    Fact: There are other gun shops in the metro.

    Fact: They don’t have nearly the number of crime guns coming from them.

    Fact: Gun stores now have online components to their business, proximity is even less of an issue in this day and age.

    Can you PROVE that Badger is fulfilling their duty as a gun shop and following the law?

  13. Even when you buy a gun online, you have to have it delivered to a licensed firearms dealer for the background check and pickup. All dealers charge an extra fee for this service. Badger charges far more than anyone else, actively discouraging the use of their store for online purchases.

    And yes, they ARE following the law, because the original article stated that the place was crawling with cops for a 3 month span and since they haven’t closed it down yet, obviously they weren’t doing anything wrong. The shop has even invited the police inside to patrol the store, not undercover. They don’t hesitate to let police read their customer records and security tapes. Their employees regularly appear in court to testify against straw buyers. They obviously have nothing to hide.

    Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? All I’ve ever seen against this store is paranoia and circumstance.

  14. DM says:

    @Daniel, if there is no good solution, then why has literally every other gun store found it?

  15. David says:

    Gentlepeople,

    I agree that preventing illegal purchase is and may remain problematic. Is the statistic that most shootings come from people with previous criminal convictions? Are these people first time offenders statistically? Will we expect this to change substantially with concealed carry license in Wisconsin?

    I think that there is a problem of ignorance that has an impact in this situation. If a previous non offender obtains a firearm do they know about civil as well as criminal penalties for using it. Do they know alternative methods of self protection.

    Wisconsin law enforcement has a system called D.A.A.T. which aside from other law enforcement things teaches a force option continuum with topics such as unarmed techniques, intermediate force options e. g. stun guns, OC spray, use of a baton and firearm use. It also contains what Wisconsin Law about use of force is as well as Wisconsin and National case law about use of weapons/firearms.

    I think that some first time offenders would not be so if information about stuff other than pulling the trigger were taught.
    That topic may still elude some after instruction because they may not have the background to understand it. But there seems no effort to teach the public in this area. One might well be advised to read Masaad Ayoobs’ writings.

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