Milwaukee officials misplacing blame for recent shootings

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Violent crime is a problem.

We may disagree as to how big of a problem, but it’s a problem. Even one violent crime is a problem. It’s more of a problem if you’re the victim, of course, but it’s still not a good thing.

In Milwaukee, they’re having a big problem with a lot more than just one violent crime. Unfortunately, they’re following the oh-so-popular urban center trend of blaming the problem on the lack of gun control.

The city of Milwaukee continues to process a series of shootings in the downtown area last weekend. Known as the “Deer District,” in homage to the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, the downtown entertainment district saw a trio of shooting sprees between 9:10 p.m. and 11:54 p.m., leaving more than 20 people injured. All of the victims, ranging from 15-47 years of age, are expected to recover. Ten people were arrested, 17 were left injured, and 10 firearms were recovered from just one of the shootings. Five of those injured during that incident, according to the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), were also armed and taken into custody. All of the incidents remain under investigation. A curfew was declared for people under 21 years of age, and downtown businesses reported fewer customers as people stayed away.

Now, I’m going to jump in here and ask you to remember these particular incidents. I’m going to refer back to them in a few moments.

Developing long-term solutions related to gun control strategies has been a tough sell in the state Legislature. Milwaukee officials underscored the lack of discussion of those strategies in the wake of the latest shootings. Mayor Cavalier Johnson, in a press conference over the weekend, condemned the weekend shootings.

“We cannot have that in this city, nor anywhere else in this state, nor anywhere else in this country,” said Johnson. “And by the way, as well, I will say this,” the mayor continued. “Before somebody gets to the point where they have a gun, and they’re upset, and their tempers go off, and they decide to shoot in a crowd full of people, you have to think about whether those folks should have access to a gun in the first place. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that those people should not. They obviously don’t have the responsibility to wield the weapon. So, we need to make sure that there’s repercussions for folks when they do things like that. But we also have to work on the preventive end to make sure that folks don’t have that access to firearms in the first place.”

The mayor’s sentiments were shared by some state legislatures, who pointed to policies which help perpetuate gun violence in the city. “Despite continued violence in our communities and innocent people getting hurt,” said Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) in a May 17 statement, “Republicans have not budged on their lax approach to guns in our communities, which has allowed guns to flow to criminals and individuals with violence in their minds.” Bowen denounced what he called “the dangerous opposition from Republicans to common sense gun safety legislation [that] has allowed guns to continue to flow into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.”

There’s a lot of talk here about how people shouldn’t have access to guns, but in those incidents mentioned, there’s no comment on how those individuals acquired their firearms.

That’s an important point, because if you’re going to blame the lawful access to guns for the problem, then you need to show that the people causing problems accessed those guns lawfully.

I don’t think they can.

Far too often, those who shoot so indiscriminately are those who get their guns on the black market or via a straw buy. They’re not passing NICS checks in the first place.

So how then would additional restrictions on firearms accomplish anything?

The problem is that Milwaukee has other issues and local officials are trying to deflect those by putting the blame on the state for not passing restrictions that any rational person could see wouldn’t have any impact.

This isn’t unusual, though. We see it all the time. Hell, based on Milwaukee’s proximity to Chicago, officials there may have learned about it directly from folks there. It’s worked well enough for Lori Lightfoot.

Regardless, the violence officials are decrying in Milwaukee is likely the result of criminals acting criminally, not lawful gun owners simply blowing their tops and reacting. Frankly, as a lawful gun owner, I resent the implication that I’m incapable of controlling my temper when I have a firearm on my person.

The rest of you may well be also.

So if they want to clean up their city, it might be a better idea to deal with the underlying criminal activity than pretending lawful gun sales are the issue.

Jun 25, 2022 12:30 PM ET