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Wisconsin Gun Control Bill Fast-tracked

Written by Ann Shibler on April 13 2010.

What bill could possibly gain so much tender loving and speedy care? Why a bill restricting the sale and transfer of guns, of course.

Senate Bill 643 and Assembly Bill 914 -- they are the same identical bill, just different numbers -- are each a 15-page series of amendments and the repealing and renumbering of over 20 statutes and subsections of statutes that deal with firearms and penalties along with the redefining of terms. 

What this legislation appears to be is a reworking of the Wisconsin hand gun control legislation, extending those controls and restrictions to all firearms. This bill is a dangerous expansion of the state-level background check system and includes the creation of a registry of privately-owned firearms to be sent to the Department of Justice and maintained by them for searches and research.

How this will be accomplished is quite simple.  All transfers of privately-owned firearms would have to be conducted through a federally licensed dealer. The firearms dealer, who must furnish a receipt for documentation, is required to fill out a notification form with all of the transferee’s information -- ”name, date of birth, gender and race” -- and firearm identification number, and that will be conveyed to the Department of Justice. Section 18, 175.35 (2k) (b) will be amended to read “The department of justice may maintain all of the following:

A log of dates of requests for firearms restrictions record searches under sub. (2g) together with confirmation numbers, unique approval and nonapproval numbers and firearms dealer identification numbers corresponding to those dates.

Keep in mind these are requirements not just for sales but for transfers, even gifts, unless of close blood relation. Transfers to anyone under 18 are forbidden by this law, so Dad cannot transfer ownership of Grandpa’s hunting gun to 16-year-old junior; junior will have to wait until he is 18.

The DOJ will then conduct a records search regarding the transferee. If the search turns up a felony charge OR a violent nonfelony offense charge, the firearms dealer will be notified. (This shall cost the firearms dealer $13. He can absorb the charge or pass it on to his newly expanded customer base.) The transfer or sale will go no further with the firearms dealer unless he wants to be convicted of a felony himself.

The searches could have far-reaching consequences.  Any Wisconsin law enforcement agency can be notified that a transferee is attempting to obtain firearms. It appears that a statement by a division commander who relates that he or she “has a reasonable suspicion” that a person who is the subject of an information request is undeserving can be enough to nix any firearms sale or transfer. Information on someone with a “violent nonfelony offense charge without a recorded disposition” but who is believed by the attorney general or his designee to “pose a danger to himself, herself or another,” can be disclosed to local law enforcement. Research in the data base will be allowed to outsiders merely upon approval of the department, although “safeguards are needed to prevent unwarranted disclosures of information from the records.”

What exactly is a violent nonfelony offense charge?  According to the text of the bill it is in part:

941.29 (1g)  “Violent nonfelony offense” means any of the following:
(a)  A misdemeanor violation of s. 940.19, 940.195, 940.225, 940.42, 940.44,
941.20, 941.237, 941.38, 941.39, 947.013, 948.10, 948.55, or 948.60.
(b)  A violation of a temporary restraining order or injunction issued under s.
813.12 (3) or (4), 813.122 (4) or (5), or 813.125 (3) or (4).
(c)  Any misdemeanor crime for which the maximum term of imprisonment has
been increased under s. 939.63.

The misdemeanor violations in subsection “a” above mostly include violations for assault and battery, sexual assault, intimidation of witnesses, battery to police officers and firefighters, homicide, arson, kidnapping, robbery, gang activity and exposing oneself to children. But it also encompasses misdemeanors for carrying a handgun where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed, harassment, “true threats,” leaving or storing a loaded firearm within reach of a child under 14, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 which could include firearms, brass knuckles, nunchaku-style weapon, etc. Even more serious is the misdemeanor charge for which “the maximum term of imprisonment has been increased for use of a dangerous weapon when committing the misdemeanor.”

Others who will not be approved for gun transfers include those who have been found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, insanity or mental illness, and juvenile delinquents. The only way out of a violent nonfelony offense charge label is a five-year wait, official pardon, or a determination by a court that one is not likely to present a danger plus a preponderance of evidence supplied by that person that he or she is not  likely to act in a dangerous manner.

Violations of this proposed law include fines from $500 to $10,000 and nine months in jail. Violations would automatically be considered a Class G felony, so firearms transfers would become an impossibility for another five years.

Under this bill whenever a court imposes a sentence regarding “a conviction for a felony or for a violent nonfelony offense” under the amended statute 973.176(1) the penalty for that conviction contained in 941.29 (1g) is that all firearms must be surrendered and firearms possession forbidden. This received very little attention and is matter-of-factly stated just once in the text of the bill. But is this the real crux of the bill’s scope, fully intended by its authors, sponsors, and cosponsors?

Clearly this legislation restricts the full measure of the Second Amendment that protects the God-given right to keep and bear arms and therefore is a major infringement of that right. The state of Wisconsin could also be positioning itself to make further inroads against the right to keep and bear arms. How easy would it be, once this bill is cemented into law, to incorporate more and more misdemeanor violations under the umbrella of a violent nonfelony offense?

Another question to be asked is what effect this legislation would have on hardened criminals, gang members with no respect for the law, and the thugs and punks of society who also could care less about laws and statutes. They’re not going to transfer firearms through federally licensed dealers. That beat will just go on, and it will be law abiding citizens who have their right to keep and bear arms restricted.

Wisconsinites with their rich tradition of gun ownership need to fire all of their verbal ammunition at this one, exposing the plans of their so-called representatives who, with passage of this bill, would be making a giant step toward civilian disarmament. It’s easy to contact Wisconsin representatives in opposition to Senate Bill 643 and Assembly Bill 914 by using our prewritten, editable message found in our Legislative Action Center. 

Please pass this information along to all citizens who value their freedoms and want to keep them secured by retaining their right to remain armed.

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