New $5,000 Fine For Not Reporting Stolen Guns
Proposal includes a requirement to securely store guns in cars. MPD backing proposal.
Was your gun stolen and later used in a felony? That could soon cost you $5,000 if you don’t report it.
An ordinance pending before the Milwaukee Common Council would require firearm owners to properly store their weapons and report any theft or misplacement within 24 hours of it its discovery.
In 2021, Stamper said the Milwaukee Police Department reported 863 guns being stolen from vehicles and 379 from homes.
“Every year it’s going up, it’s getting worse, it’s reflected in our community,” said Stamper.
He said he was motivated to do something after a rash of weekend shootings earlier this summer. Stamper called MPD administration for help with crafting an ordinance.
“I know us, as Common Council members, for years have been trying to do what we can do to stop gun violence within the state restrictions,” said the alderman.
“This is a real thing,” said MPD chief of staff Nick DeSiato. “We appreciate the alderman’s support here. We went back and forth how we could come up with an ordinance that makes sense, that would be applicable, that would be enforceable.”
The resulting ordinance, unanimously recommended by the committee, contains two key provisions.
“The key thing here is to report your gun as stolen,” said Stamper.
DeSiato said the department would rely on reports of the outcome of cases to issue the fines.
Ald. Scott Spiker raised the specter that waiting for an actual conviction could be too long of a timeline between the actual theft and a fine being issued.
“The messaging is as important as the enforcement,” said DeSiato about the overall strategy.
The second provision is designed to reduce incidences of the first. It is a requirement to securely store any firearm that is located in an unoccupied vehicle. The ordinance requires the firearm be placed in a hidden “secure locking device” or a locked trunk.
“We see people go to a tavern, leave a gun in there and the gun is stolen or the car is stolen and now we have a gun in circulation,” said DeSiato.
The Licenses Committee has frequently discussed vehicle break-ins that occur near bars, often with the objection of the bar owners.
“It’s bad for business,” said Council President Jose G. Perez of bars that get a reputation for having nearby break-ins. He said he hears quickly about bars that are having those issues.
Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs requested MPD provide an annual report on the number of fines issued as a result of the ordinance, and the location of the offenders.
Stamper drew praise from committee chair Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa for stewarding the proposal forward. Stamper thanked MPD and the city’s Legislative Reference Bureau staff for supporting him.
“We have seen some really horrific incidents in the past year of [children] having access to guns and treating them like toys,” he said.
In 2021, it happened at least twice A 4-year-old boy in Walker’s Point accidentally shot his 2-year-old brother in the chest, killing him. A 3-year-old boy in the Merrill Park neighborhood accidentally shot and killed himself.
The full council is expected to vote on the proposal on July 28. The measure is sponsored by Stamper, Perez, Coggs, Spiker, Zamarripa and Ashanti Hamilton.