A handful of state legislators in Wisconsin are looking to curb violence in Milwaukee by raising the penalty for purchasing a firearm for someone who is prohibited from owning one.
The bill would make the practice, commonly referred to as “straw buying,” a Class G felony in the state, meaning someone who partakes in straw buying could face up to a $25,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
It would also raise the penalty for “human holsters” or “individuals who furnish or physically possess a firearm for a prohibited possessor,” as explained by the Milwaukee Police Department.
Republican state Representative Joe Sanfelippo, the bill’s chief sponsor, believes the current law just isn’t enough to deter residents from engaging in the illegal practice.
“We have laws on the books right now to prevent (straw buying), but quite frankly the law is inadequate,” he said according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
Under Sanfelippo’s bill, firearm buyers would also be required to fill out a form guaranteeing that they are not purchasing the gun for someone else.
While still in the early stages, the bill has already gained considerable support from law enforcement groups, including the Badger State Sheriffs’ Association, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association.
“This legislation will help sheriffs and other law enforcement officers keep our communities safe by deterring people from providing criminals with guns,” Washburn County Sheriff Terry Dryden declared at a public hearing earlier this month.
The Milwaukee Police Association also announced its support for strengthening the punishment for straw buying. However, it feels the “the affirmative defense language must be removed to have any significant impact.”
The Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety has yet to hold a vote on the legislation.