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Aldermen favor more gun buyer checks
Plan extends reviews to person-to-person sales

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | April 25, 2005

Some mothers who lost sons to gun violence received a boost Monday from a Milwaukee Common Council committee in their effort to toughen gun laws in the county.

They are, however, unlikely to get the same positive reception in Madison, where they need support to make their vision of extending background checks to person-to-person sales a reality.

The Judiciary and Legislation Committee voted 4-0 to support a bill, which state Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) sponsored, that would allow Milwaukee County to create a system to regulate such sales.

The concept is that sales between people would be treated the same way as sales from a gun store, in which buyers face a background check and a waiting period. In this case, the seller would ask the state to perform the check, and the seller would wait until the check was completed before making the sale.

Mothers Against Gun Violence is pushing the measure, saying it would create a paper trail for the guns. Its members noted that many guns, including the ones that killed their sons, are not handled through gun stores. The group also cited statistics that suggest the majority of guns used in crimes in the city originated with sales in the county.

Ald. Jim Bohl, a committee member, abstained from the vote, saying he was ambivalent about whether the change would be effective. He noted that illegal gun sales would continue and that a better approach might be to enact new rules statewide. Ald. Joe Dudzik, who is not a committee member, urged the panel to oppose the change, saying it would put too many bureaucratic requirements on people who sell guns.

The measure, which Ald. Ashanti Hamilton sponsored, directs city lobbyists to push for the bill. Coggs acknowledged, though, that it faces an uphill battle in Madison, where Republicans control the Legislature. The full council is to take up the measure May 3.

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