You hear a lot of gun control advocates bemoaning the 'straw purchases' of guns.
Straw purchases are weapons and guns procured through an intermediary for those who are prohibited from owning them. Gun control advocates say loopholes in federal and state law make this a common practice for criminals, and use this to bolster their calls for further restrictions on gun ownership.
According to data compiled by the Sheriff’s Department, "between 2001 and 2012, data gleaned from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office reveals that a meager 43 cases were issued for straw purchase violations." And of those 43 cases, just 20 (46%) resulted in convictions.
Sheriff Clarke explains:
"Even for those actually convicted of the straw purchase, the sentences handed down ranged from fines and no custodial time, and the more common outcome: probation and short stays in the county jail. In only four cases did a conviction for the crime result in the perpetrator serving time in a state prison. In only two cases did they serve two years or more."
The data reveals that in 2012 there was not one case where charges were brought against a straw purchaser of guns. And in the 12 cases since 2007, three were dismissed and one reduced to a disorderly conduct charge. And just four cases of the twelve cases resulted in prison sentences.
An individual convicted of straw purchasing can be sentenced up to ten years in prison and be charged up to $25,000 in fines. And prior to 2003, penalties for straw purchasing were up to 15 years and $50,000 in fines.
The data released by the Sheriff’s Department details a special irony among liberals. While always seeking new gun-control laws, they are completely unwilling to enforce the current laws on the books.
And given the meager number of cases where charges are brought, one might expect judges to make an example of straw purchasers. But not so for many judges.
In 2010, Judge Rebecca Dallet sentenced four individuals charged with straw purchases. And while one defendant did receive a two-year prison sentence, the other three sentences included a 4-day jail sentence, a disorderly conduct charge and fine, and another saw charges dismissed after the defendant pled guilty in another case.
Other examples provided by the Sheriff’s Department include a 2009 case where Judge Michael Goulee dismissed the charges once they were read in against defendant Billy Joe Cannon. In 2007, the only case where charges were brought against a straw purchaser was dismissed on a defense motion by Judge Barry Slagle. And in 2006, Judge Daniel Konkol dismissed charges in exchange for a plea that resulted in just one year of probation and 10 hours of community service.
"The anti-gun crowd pushes for "get out of jail free" programs like "second chance," "community corrections" and other failed attempts at social engineering that send a signal to criminals that they are not really serious about cracking down on gun trafficking violations," Clarke said.
"I have seen this charade played out for most of my 35 years in law enforcement," said Clarke. "The bottom line is that in Milwaukee County there is no will between prosecutors and courts to attach consequences to this behavior. We don’t need new laws when the criminal justice system will not enforce the ones we already have."