Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

New $5,000 Fine For Not Reporting Stolen Guns

Proposal includes a requirement to securely store guns in cars. MPD backing proposal.

By - Jul 21st, 2022 01:05 pm
M1911 Pistol Gun. Pixabay License. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

M1911 Pistol Gun. (Pixabay License).

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.

“Stolen guns increased 124% in 2021 versus 2019,” said Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II in presenting the proposal to the Public Safety & Health Committee Thursday morning.

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.

An owner of a firearm not reported to the police as stolen or misplaced, and for which the firearm is later used in a crime resulting in a misdemeanor or felony conviction is liable to pay a penalty of $2,500 to $5,000.

“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.

Spiker said when thieves find a gun under a passenger seat, they’ve hit the “motherlode” and will more frequently target those locations. A member of the Licenses Committee, he called on MPD to provide data on where the thefts were occurring as part of the license renewal process.

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.

DeSiato called on the council members to use their communication platforms to drive awareness to the issue and noted it could save the lives of children.

“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.

MPD and Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced a gun lock giveaway in May designed to prevent those incidents and discourage other shootings.

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.

2 thoughts on “City Hall: New $5,000 Fine For Not Reporting Stolen Guns”

  1. Mingus says:

    In addition to a fine for not reporting stolen guns, how about a law that requires parents in households with children sixteen and under to secure a gun so that it can not be accessed by them. This would keep handguns out of the hands of curious three year olds and older youth who might think they need to take a gun to school for protection.

  2. RetiredResident says:

    Cannot recall which state found that of “stolen” guns used in crimes, fully 1/3 were not reported “stolen” until law enforcement showed up on the doorstep of the “law abiding” citizen who legally purchased it. $5,000 is not enough.

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