MILWAUKEE — Amid a surge in gun violence in Milwaukee, Alderman Russell Stamper has sponsored new legislation that, if passed, would require gun owners in the City of Milwaukee to follow new rules aimed at cracking down on stolen and unsecured guns.
"It's puzzling how many people in the community have guns," said Stamper.
The proposed ordinance "requires a firearm owner to properly store and supervise the whereabouts of any firearm owned at all times to ensure the firearm is not acquired by any person and used in the commission of a crime," according to Milwaukee Common Council records. "It also requires the firearm owner to report the theft or misplacement of any firearm to police within 24-hours of discovery."
Alderman Stamper's concern is that unsecured guns are often used in homicides and can also lead to tragic accidents.
"Especially with young people and young kids playing around with guns if its not stored safely. A lot of young people got shot and killed this year just because a gun is not stored safely," he said.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, studies show that more than 4.6 million kids live in homes with unlocked and loaded guns in the United States. Nearly 350 kids accidentally shoot themselves every year nationwide, and another study said roughly 380,000 guns are stolen from private gun owners each year.
If passed, the ordinance would allow for fines for not following the rules, ranging up to $1,000 in Milwaukee. If fines go unpaid, the proposed amendment says firearm owners "shall be imprisoned as provided by law."
"The highest I could do is a thousand," said Stamper. "That's the highest I could do. I am going to keep trying to get it as high as possible. I would do five to 10 thousand dollars because you should know where your gun is."
Thomas Leager, Executive Director of Wisconsin Gun Owners, INC., says the legislation is a bad idea.
"I absolutely believe in safes, I just don't think the government should enforce the safes," Leager said.
He believes the rules will disproportionately impact good citizens, especially minorities, and will serve as a distraction to what he says the real issue is; criminals.
"It's an attack on gun ownership. I think its meant to criminalize gun ownership and make it seem as if the criminals are not at fault, it's the gun owner," he said.
Stamper says he's not attacking the gun owner. He's asking for help.
"Asking for assistance in knowing where your gun is. You're not in trouble if you know where your gun is," he said.
The proposal is under review in the Common Council's Public Safety and Health Committee. Stamper hopes the proposal will go before the full council for a vote in the next cycle at the end of June.