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'Open your eyes to what's happening': Milwaukee experiencing spike in stolen guns on the streets

Posted at 8:49 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 22:55:25-04

MILWAUKEE — Shootings are up in Milwaukee and so are the number of cars being broken into. It is a trend that city leaders and police say is no coincidence.

Most stolen guns in Milwaukee are being taken from cars and it is mirroring an alarming trend nationwide.

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman referenced this when addressing Friday's mass shooting in his district downtown.

“A very easy way to obtain a firearm is by breaking into a car where there's a high probability that there’s a weapon stored inside,” he said.

The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) confirmed in the first four months of 2022, more than 400 guns were reported stolen. That is an average of 100 guns per month getting into the hands of the wrong people.

More than half of those stolen guns (266) were taken from cars, according to MPD. For a breakdown of the rest, 110 were stolen from homes, 18 from people, four from garages, and two from businesses. These are just the ones that have been reported to police.

Wisconsin has no law requiring gun owners to report their gun lost or stolen. Other states have recently passed laws, including Illinois and Michigan.

Sean Holihan works with police and lawmakers in every state and on both sides of the aisle as part of Giffords Law Center. It is a national organization trying to pass bipartisan gun violence prevention policies.

"Guns are a part of many people's lives. They're raised with guns, they're very comfortable with them. It's not that we don't want people to have guns," Holihan said. "We just want them to use them in a responsible way."

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson spoke about his desire to work with state lawmakers, while announcing a weekend curfew after Friday night's violence.

"We don't control gun law at the local level. I wish that we did, but we don't. That's something for Madison to work out and I implore my partners in Madison that I intend to work with to open your eyes to what's happening in Milwaukee," Johnson said.

State Senator LaTonya Johnson says she's pushing for the state legislature to give Milwaukee the ability to impose some of its own gun restrictions.

The issue is not unique to Milwaukee. From 2019 to 2020, at least 180 U.S. cities saw a rise in gun thefts from veyhicles, which now make up the largest source of stolen guns, according to non-profit Everytown For Gun Safety.

In Racine this week, the police chief made a plea to parents -- if you know your teenager somehow has an illegal gun, call police and they will come pick it up.

If you legally own a gun, Angel Quinoz, the owner of AQ Firearms in Greendale recommends:

  • Lockable safes you can hook up a cord to, wrap around the base of your seat.
  • Do not keep it in your glove compartment even if it has a lock, those can be more easily broken.
  • Take note of the serial numbers and have that information stored in a safe place.

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