Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett are asking state legislators to create a law that would enforce a 3-year mandatory minimum sentence for career criminals who are caught in possession of a firearm.
“We are asking for a change in state law. If you cannot possess a gun and you do, there has to be a mandatory minimum sentence,” Barrett said.
Mayor Flynn added, “The culture of retaliatory violence is aided and abetted by the fact that it’s more dangerous to see your enemy without your gun than with it… We want to prevent the next shooting. We want to prevent homicide. We prevent them by locking up people illegally carrying a firearm.”
Wisconsin law currently has fairly lax rules when it comes to illegally possessing a firearm. Offenders are slapped with a misdemeanor charge regardless of how many times they’ve committed the same crime. For many career criminals, it’s easier to simply carry a gun illegally because the crime of carrying gun is less severe than the other crimes that they are committing.
The popularity of this proposed law would weigh heavily on whether or not the 3-year sentence only applies to career criminals. What happens if a law-abiding citizen illegally holds onto his buddy’s gun for a short time? Should he be tossed in prison for three years?
Such a severe penalty would be best suited for repeat offenders who continuously ignore gun laws and use firearms to commit violent crimes. Failing to make this distinction would likely spark outrage from the gun rights community.
To his credit, though, Flynn attempted to keep the debate as far away from gun rights as possible. “The problems of firearms in the hands of criminals,” he argued, “are separate and apart from the usual values debate and ideological discussions of second amendment rights.”
Do you think that a mandatory 3-year sentence for illegally possessing a firearm would help prevent crime? Does it infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens?