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4/13/2010 11:01:00 AM
Late bill would ban most private gun sales in Wisconsin
Certain misdemeanor convictions could bar gun ownership

Richard Moore
Investigative Reporter


A fast-tracked bill introduced in the state Legislature at the end of March would ban the private sale of most firearms in Wisconsin and would for the first time extend a prohibition on the possession of firearms to those convicted of certain misdemeanors.

State Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis) are the principal authors of the legislation, which received public hearings in both the Senate and Assembly this past week.

The bill would essentially require all firearm transfers to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer, except transfers to family members, law enforcement and military agencies.

Specifically, according to an analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau, the legislation prohibits the sale or transfer of any firearm unless one of five conditions applies. That is, the sale or transfer must be by a federally licensed firearms dealer or the sale or transfer is to or through a firearms dealer, or the transfer is by gift, bequest, or inheritance to a family member, or is intended to be temporary and the purpose of the transfer is not illegal.

Finally, a sale or transfer may be made if a waiting period does not apply, such as for the transfer of firearms classified as antiques, or transfers between firearms dealers or between wholesalers and dealers, or transfers of any firearm to law enforcement or armed services agencies.

Under the proposed statute, family member means a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild. The relationship may be by blood, marriage, or adoption.

In addition, while current law prohibits a person from possessing a firearm if he or she has been convicted of a felony, this bill would prohibit a person from possessing a firearm if he or she has been convicted of a "violent nonfelony offense" unless five years have passed since the conviction.

Such offenses include misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor harassment, misdemeanor endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, exposing genitals to a child, violations of a domestic abuse, child abuse, or harassment temporary restraining order or injunction, and misdemeanors for which the maximum term of imprisonment has been increased for use of a dangerous weapon when committing the misdemeanor.

Way out there

The National Rifle Association says the proposed legislation is an infringement of the Second Amendment rights of Wisconsin citizens.

"These proposals contain outrageously hostile language which would put unconstitutional restrictions on firearm transactions and transfers at gun shows," the NRA stated on its website. "Gun control advocates refer to this legislation as a fix for the 'gun show loophole,' the scare tactic created by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to push his anti-gun agenda. (As) in most cases with state legislation and Bloomberg's federal legislation regarding closing this 'loophole,' the bill goes way beyond that and provides many unconstitutional restrictions on law abiding citizens."

The problem for Wisconsin is that Bloomberg has found a sympathetic ear with Milwaukee's mayor and some Milwaukee legislators who have been misled by his false statements and rhetoric, the NRA stated.

The NRA said the proposals do more than close a gun-show loophole.

"These proposals go way beyond gun shows though, and frankly attack many personal freedoms," the NRA stated. "These proposals would require that all firearm transfers be conducted through a federally licensed dealer,except to family members. That means if you wanted to sell your firearm to a friend, you would have to find a federally licensed dealer and pay whatever transfer fees they felt appropriate."

The organization also points out that all firearms transfers would have to be reported and all guns registered into a centralized database without establishing who has access to the database.

According to the legislation, before any firearm is transferred, the person receiving the firearm must provide identification to the firearms dealer and the firearms dealer must complete a notification form listing his or her name, his or her contact information, and information to identify the firearm and convey the information on the form to the Department of Justice.

Including information to identify all firearms, and not just handguns, would create a registration database similar to Canada's long gun registry, which that country is on the verge of dismantling. The difference would be that only guns involved in sales or transfers after the effective date of the law would be included.

Finally, the NRA took issue with the constitutionality of applying possession restrictions to those convicted of misdemeanors.

"This provision is a blatant constitutional violation," the NRA stated. "In Heller v. D.C., the ruling states that only felony convictions are justified in restricting this constitutionally guaranteed right."

For his part, state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) has criticized he process by which the bill's supporters are moving it along. Grothman has called the effort "a rush to the finish line" to pass bills targeting Second Amendment rights.

Closing the loophole

The bill's authors and its supporters say criminal background checks are needed for all sales or transfers of firearms; the bill would accomplish that by outlawing most private sales, and extending the current required background check for handgun purchases to all firearms.

Under current law, a criminal background check must be conducted on the prospective purchaser when a handgun is purchased from a federally licensed gun dealer, says Jeri Bonavia, the executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), while no such background check is performed when guns are sold by unlicensed gun sellers or private individuals.

"It's as though we are saying to the bad guys, 'Do you want to go through security screening or not? It's your choice,'" Bonavia said. "What if we used this kind of optional system at an airport and let passengers decide whether or not they wanted to go through security? I don't think anyone would believe for a second that it could work. Not surprisingly, optional security doesn't work for gun purchasing either."

Bonavia said approximately, 30,000 U.S. citizens, including 450 Wisconsin residents, are killed by gunfire every year.

The bill's authors say the legislation has broad public support, even among members of the NRA, and would put a stop to the private "straw" sale of guns at guns shows and garage sales.

"Gun violence is arguably the most significant threat to the safety of urban residents in the United States of America," Coggs and Staskunas wrote in a March 15 memo to fellow lawmakers. "According to a nationwide poll conducted by conservative political consultant and Fox News commentator Frank Luntz, 69 percent of National Rifle Association members and 85 percent of non-NRA gun-owners support 'requiring all gun sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns.'"

They also cited a survey by WAVE claiming that 84 percent of likely voters in Wisconsin agreed with the statement that "anyone who buys a gun should be required to have a background check done by a licensed gun dealer to make sure they have no criminal record."

The national survey they cited was performed on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns by Luntz's polling firm, the Word Doctors, Nov. 25 to Dec. 2, 2009, and, according to the mayors' group, surveyed 401 NRA gun owners and 431 non-NRA gun owners.

Luntz's credibility has been challenged in the past. In 1997, the Executive Council of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) conducted a 14-month investigation and determined that Luntz violated the Association's Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.

In particular, according to the organization, Luntz repeatedly refused to make public essential facts about his research on public attitudes about the Republicans' "Contract with America," including the wording of questions used in the poll, the disclosure of which AAPOR says is essential to validate a poll's claims.



Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 30, 2010
Article comment by: Ronald M. Wilson

Rights aside, the Canadian registration of long guns & crossbows has proven to be a practical disaster. It has not solved one crime since handguns were first registered in 1934. American politicians advocate registration based on philosophy and by totally ignoring reality and the history of failure.

Posted: Saturday, April 24, 2010
Article comment by: Ron Gallenberg

Excellent article Mr. Moore, Thank You for your efforts to keep Wisconsin voters informed. Looks to me like just another reason to get out this fall and excercise another one of our constitutional rights and vote morons these out of office. I think there is a whole lot of "house" cleaning needed at both the state and federal levels. Please keep up the good reporting to help with "firing up" the people.

Posted: Friday, April 23, 2010
Article comment by: PAUL AND GWEN STOKES

THANK YOU MR. MOORE:
THOUGH WE LIVE IN ALABAMA WE WILL BE CONTRIBUTING TO THE DEFEAT OF COGGS AND STASKUNAS IN THE NEXT ELECTIONS. THESE ARE THE SORT OF STATE LAWS THAT EVENTUALLY EFFECT ALL OF STATES. IT IS TIME TO GET INVOLVED ACROSS STATE LINES WHEN IT COMES TO THE THEFT OF OUR RIGHTS. PAUL AND GWEN STOKES


Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Article comment by: Donald L. Cline

I wonder what these clowns would think of Arizona's latest legislation on the subject: It's called "Constitutional Carry." You can get a permit to carry concealed if you want to, or if you need reciprocal recognition by another State, or you can carry concealed anyway, with no penalty. It's called "Constitutional Carry" because governmental interference with it IS PROHIBITED BY THE CONSTITUTION. I don't suppose Coggs and Staskun as and their ilk have ever heard of that document they are sworn to uphold and defend -- which makes them liars and thugs as well as idiots.

Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Article comment by: Metalchemist

Simply put the Demonic rats are running amock drunk with power (they think) until they get thrown out of office. The hopefully charged with deriliction of their responsibilities.

They are trying the same in California. They have presented 8 anti gun bills in the last month.
This must be stopped.

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum !
Acta Non Verba !


Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Article comment by: thomas Schaefer

Spencer Coggs Long live Lobotomie. Why not force that onto everyone, it's basicaly the same, with the advantage of eliminating the political process, required by the Constitution

Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Article comment by: Alice Lillie

The ownership of inanimate objects is a God-given right. Guns are inanimate objects. Therefore ownership of a gun is a God-given right. Self-defense is also a God-given right. I realize it's cliche, but if law-abiding citizens are not allowed to use this right, then only criminals will have guns, making the rest of us vulnerable.

Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Article comment by: Dan Chiariello

Someone earlier commented this is a "back door attempt to restrict our right to bear arms". No, this is a main entrance parade with a brass band.

I am a refugee from the Peoples Republic of Wisconsin. Liberal stuff like this, as well as the crappy weather and their perverted addiction to taxes, are the reasons I got out over 20 years ago. This is just the latest confirmation I made the right decision moving to Florida (the vanguard of concealed carry).

Milwaukee, Racine & Madison are the tail that wags the rest of the dog in that State. My only suggestion to those that appreciate being left alone is to do what I did: Vote with your feet.


Posted: Monday, April 19, 2010
Article comment by: Sallie Helmer

Good Reporting. Thank You, Mr. Richard Moore for informing the residents on what is going on in Wisconsin. The Democrats are taking away our Constitutional Freedoms at the state and at the Federal level and we must wake up and vote them out of office.

Posted: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Article comment by: butch

Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee )& Rep. Tony Staskunas are idiots. and I hope not long for public service for much longer.
2 members of the Democrat Leadership will be very key to reach out to: Representative Peter Barca (D) Kenosha 608-266-5504
Representative Tony Staskunas (D) West Allis 414-541-9440 or 608-266-0620 and other Key Members to contact are Senators Hansen, Lehman, Lassa and Representatives Schilling and Mason.


Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Article comment by: James E. ohnson

This looks like a back door attempt to restrict our right to bear arms.

Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Article comment by: Richard

Why don't thes public servants(politicians) devote their time to cut waste and spending. Save our tax money. Thi gun thing is by far the biggest waste ever. Get off the gun thing. Put people in jail that mis use the right. Leave honest people alone. Do you really think anyone is going to advise who evere that they sold their shotgun to a friend or neighbor! At least we have two more politicians to vote out.


Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: Mike

All the stats on major crime are way down? Closing a loop hole by burning down the barn is not justified in any case. Consider all crime. It's about fear mainly. Most of this fear is pushed by law enforcement itself in order to remain firmly in power and get more funding. Too bad for Wis. How's you cheese doing? Full of holes? You needed this like holes in your heads. Oh well, cops are right citizens are wrong and after the change, nothing good will happen. Please, stick to cheese up there.

Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: John Bates Thayer

Our rights rest on 4 boxes.
The ballot box.
The jury box.
The soap box.
The cartridge box.


Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: John Bates Thayer

Never allow your God-given rights to be trampled by anyone! Anyone who votes for this bill had better have their life insurance paid up

Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: Andrew Johnstone, RPh/MD

Before assuming any seemingly harmless 'gun control' law would be anything other than dangerous and counterproductive, or even that it is being presented truthfully to the public, citizens should read the landmark law review article by Don Kates (a liberal criminologist) and his physician co-authors, "Guns and Public Health - epidemic of violence, or pandemic of propaganda?" from Pring 1995 Tennessee Law Review. The article is detailed, thoroughly referenced (1/3 of the 80 pages is footnotes and citations), and concludes "Even more unfortunately, CDC and other health advocate sages build their case not only by suppressing facts, but by overt fraud, fabricating statistics, and falsifying references to support them.[261] The following are but a few of the many examples documented in a recent paper co-authored by professors at Columbia Medical School and Rutgers University Law School."


http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/58tenn.pdf

Andrew Johnstone, RPh/MD
Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws - www.dsgl.org


Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: Andrew Johnstone, RPh/MD

Before assuming any seemingly harmless 'gun control' law would be anything other than dangerous and counterproductive, or even that it is being presented truthfully to the public, citizens should read the landmark law review article by Don Kates (a liberal criminologist) and his physician co-authors, "Guns and Public Health - epidemic of violence, or pandemic of propaganda?" from Pring 1995 Tennessee Law Review. The article is detailed, thoroughly referenced (1/3 of the 80 pages is footnotes and citations), and concludes "Even more unfortunately, CDC and other health advocate sages build their case not only by suppressing facts, but by overt fraud, fabricating statistics, and falsifying references to support them.[261] The following are but a few of the many examples documented in a recent paper co-authored by professors at Columbia Medical School and Rutgers University Law School."


http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/58tenn.pdf

Andrew Johnstone, RPh/MD
Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws - www.dsgl.org


Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: CLARENCE LEE CLINE

I see that this state is eat up with Democrats and mind controlling mass media. Google Gun Facts 5.1 for a free unimpeachable fact sheet about guns and learn the truth. Did you know that your kid is 7 times more likely to die from drowning in a public swimming pool than to be shot? There is no such thing as a saturday night special, cop killer bullets, assault weapon, or a red eyed dragon in the flesh? lol this given with love by a sheepdog.

Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: Amasaman

The government should not be involved in the transfer of privately owned property from one individual to another.

Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Article comment by: Archangel

Rep. Tony Staskunas is an idiot. I regrettably had him as my "representative" if you can call him that since he represented nothing that I believed in, when I lived in Wisconsin. Hopefully they will NOT get this awful legislation passed. Best of luck.


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