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Badger Guns In West Milwaukee Should Be Forced Out Of Business

September 27, 2009

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a shocker of a statement as a lead-in to their story on guns.  “Sales often tied to crime.”  Who would ever have thought that possible from a store that sells guns?  I am not chiding the newspaper, as the story they write is accurate, and timely.  The idea however that we are still needing to have these type of stories reported is what I find disturbing.  The gun culture is very much alive and deadly as ever in Wisconsin, and part of the reason for that are those who make blood money by selling weapons. 

When you read the following I am confident that will feel some anger.  Be mindful that there is nothing wrong with righteous anger. 

What is allowed to happen with Badger Guns impacts our society as a whole.  If there was raw sewage being thrown into the streets by this business steps would be taken to remedy the matter.  If an outbreak of a deadly communicable disease occurred within their doors the city would step in and act immediately.  Therefore there is no reason that the public should need to endure the blood and pain that is caused by this business through their gun sales anymore.  Enough is enough!

Badger Guns, and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, have accounted for roughly one-third of all crime guns traced by Milwaukee police in the past four years, the data shows. No other store in the state comes close to that figure. The next closest, The Shooters Shop in West Allis, accounted for less than 3% of guns traced by Milwaukee police during the same period.

A total of 1,880 crime guns recovered in Milwaukee were linked to Badger between January 2006 and Sept. 1 – or more than one a day, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis.

Badger isn’t just the biggest seller of crime guns in Milwaukee, but among the biggest in the nation. Badger Outdoors was one of the top sellers a decade ago and was No. 1 as of 2005, according to federal data. Congress has since forbidden the release of such rankings.

Badger Outdoors went out of business in 2007 but was reopened as Badger Guns in August of that year by a longtime employee of Badger Outdoors. Besides the name change, the operation remains largely the same at the gun shop on S. 43rd St.

The department’s operation at Badger kicked off two days after Milwaukee police Officers Graham Kunisch and Bryan Norberg were shot in June. The gun used to shoot the officers was purchased at Badger Guns a month earlier by a straw buyer, according to prosecutors. That shooting came less than two years after a different pair of officers were shot in November 2007 with a gun from Badger Outdoors.

During the 11-week operation, Milwaukee police:

• Discovered felons use Badger’s shooting range for target practice. In one case, store employees rented a gun to a felon to shoot. Another felon had a shooting “range pass card” in his pocket showing he had shot at Badger previously. Store employees check driver’s licenses but not criminal histories of shooters.

• Seized 12 guns from felons and others leaving the store. They arrested nine felons for possessing guns, seven for carrying a concealed weapon and four on drug charges. Eight people have been charged so far as a result of the sweep.

• Spotted felons frequently going in the store or waiting outside. Felons are banned from possessing guns, but probation agents do not routinely require felons to stay out of gun stores such as Badger. Police and prosecutors say that should change.

Police Chief Edward Flynn said he learned how many guns from Badger were ending up in violent crimes when he became chief nearly two years ago. After the officers were shot, Flynn ordered up a plan to target illegal gun buys at Badger.

“I had an enough-is-enough moment,” Flynn said. “They know to whom they are selling, they know what is happening with their product, they know citizens in Milwaukee are dying, and they don’t care.”


  1. Griffin permalink
    December 21, 2009 3:06 PM

    It’s hardly worth my time to post here, but feel compelled for the benefit of Badger Guns.

    First, gun stores do not CAUSE crime any more than gas stations cause arson. Those who perpetrate crimes should be punished for them, not those who provide lawful products to law abiding citizens. The fact is anything can be used as a weapon.

    Second, if there is some substance to the allegations, then the police appear to be doing their job to ensure that Badger abides by the law. “Forcing” a business to close (and from what I gather in your post, you mean permanently), is a drastic measure to be employed only when all else fails (i.e. enforcement against illegal sales). I am not convinced Badger has reached that point, though if the newspaper’s facts are correct (which I doubt, given the dearth of journalistic integrity today), Badger may be in need of some stepped up enforcement.

  2. nickferis permalink
    November 30, 2009 11:57 PM

    A weapon is only a tool in a criminals hands. So lets say a Guy gets stabbed with a pencil, are we going to go bitch at office Max???

  3. Chuck permalink
    November 2, 2009 1:06 AM

    the reason that badger guns has a bad rep is because they are the largest retailer in the milwaukee area and that they sell guns to reputable background checked americans… but the guns get into the hands of felons somehow… but that isn’t their problem… and neither is the police presence around the store, they’re just looking for fellons or sales to felons, badger guns should not be shut down as a contributor to crime, it’s the citizens that sell guns to criminals

  4. strandedinIowa permalink
    October 14, 2009 11:58 PM

    I have a clue on this and have been paying attention to this story for the past couple of weeks. The Journal Sentinel (and other papers) have been editorializing about this since day one. While your particular link may not have been an editorial per se, I stand by my criticism of them and the other outlets.

    My point I wanted to make was that no one should get into a pissing match about who is more valid in their concern for the shootings. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. And I’m guessing you don’t know the person you were criticizing, but it’s your blog. And where I come from, police officers deserve and receive a flag-draped coffin. An officer was shot this summer in Milwaukee alledgedly from a gun legally purchased from Badger Guns. It could have been purchased 20 years ago, or stolen from someone who purchased it from Badgers. The paper doesn’t report that.

    If Badger’s is committing a criminal activity, the ATF would certainly be involved. And if they are ,they deserve to be shut down and charges brought against them. If they are conducting business legally, then there is no valid argument against them. The prosecution should be pointed to those who purchased the guns and provided them to the criminals and to the criminals themselves. Straw purchasing is a crime perpetrated by the buyer, not the seller.

    You may not like what they are selling, but it’s a legal product owned by millions of citizens in this country. There’s no evidence (yet) that Badger Guns has committed any crime. It is the jurisdiction of the ATF or whatever state agency to investigate, not the police chief and mayor of Milwaukee.

  5. October 14, 2009 8:44 PM

    First, this was not on the editorial pages, but instead was a page one news story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As noted in the news story law enforcement is very concerned with this business, and their actions. I am sure you think your interests are far more important than those who actually protect our streets, or the citizens that pay the taxes in Wisconsin and know the price of an ER visit due to gun violence. Since many do not have health insurance we all end up paying for the weapons that Badger Guns sell and wind up killing or injuring people.

    Second, I have worked in two different non-profit social worker jobs, and one of them dealt with teenagers and street crime type issues. I have been in the jail with these kids and up close with the grit of the system. In addition I am a PA to a friend with Alzheimer’s and do more in one week for the greater good than I need explain to you.

    Third, I am quite sure the ones getting killed by the guns in Milwaukee are not going out in flag draped coffins. Too many of them are kids that never made it to the age where they could even enlist.

    Get a clue, buddy!

  6. strandedinIowa permalink
    October 14, 2009 7:56 PM

    Go ahead and point fingers to deflect the fact that if the evidence was so overwhelmingly against Badger’s, the ATF would be all over them. They have the data and if there was evidence, they (ATF) are the ones to go after a rogue gun dealer, not the editorial pages.

    Oh, and while we’re at it, have you done the things that you accuse others of not doing?

    You may stand on the sidelines or in the waiting rooms with your holier-than-thou attitude, others are in the rooms working or carrying the flag draped caskets. Not all of us agree with you.

  7. Scott permalink
    October 14, 2009 6:41 PM

    This is ridiculous! I have personally seen Badger employees turn down well over a dozen sales due to suspected straw purchasing. They use video surveillance and watch the behavior of everyone entering the store and any individuals that remain in the car during an attempted purchase. They are VERY careful.

    I’ll bet that if a per capita study was done, basing the amount of “crime guns” sold vs. those used in crimes from each store, the numbers would be different. Wisconsin needs to make straw purchases a felony, make CCW without a permit a felony, and issue CCW permits to qualified citizens. I have 5 non-resident CCW permits from Florida, Utah, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. Together, these allow me to carry a weapon in 33 states (exactly 66% of the country). I pay no taxes and am not a citizen of any of these states and yet 66% of the country trusts me to carry in their states, but my home state will not. Even as a licensed & insured Armed Security Guard and Private Detective with a State Firearms Permit for security work, I’m not allowed to carry concealed. Outrageous considering the death threats you get when working in this capacity. If I had a nickel for every time I busted a perp that told me he was going to kill me or have me killed if I’m seen on the street, I could retire a rich man.

    Chief Flynn is correct when he says there is really no penalty for these felons to carry guns. Give us the ability to get a legal permit and the felons will have a good reason…to keep themselves from getting killed by armed resistance to their crimes.

    The chief also committed either defamation, slander, libel, or all 3 by publicly stating that selling guns to criminals is part of Badger Gun’s business plan. Ask him the last time he read it. Badger has never released their business plan.

    It’s time for Doyle to get out, let Scott Walker take over, and put a common sense CCW mechanism for law abiding citizens in place.

    We lost the chance last time because Doyle intimidated 2 democrats into reversing their vote when the veto override came. He didn’t want to be embarrassed by an overturned veto the day before his State of The State address.

  8. October 3, 2009 4:30 PM

    Stand alongside those buying the coffins for the gun victims of those killed by the weapons sold from Badger and then comment.

    Sit alongside those in the waiting rooms of the hospitals where loved ones are being operated on for gun shot wounds as a result of the weapons sold at Badger and then comment.

    Until then……..

  9. Kurt Hofmann permalink
    October 3, 2009 3:59 PM

    Of what illegal acts is Badger Guns, its owner, or its staff, accused; and what evidence has been presented of this wrongdoing?

    It seems to me that there has been plenty of scrutiny of Badger, in both its present incarnation, and when it was Badger Outdoors. Therefore, it would seem to me, if there is evidence of any wrongdoing, it would have been found by now, and steps to shut the store down would have been taken.

    Since that doesn’t seem to have happened, I can only conclude that zero evidence of wrongdoing has been found, and that therefore neither legal or moral authority to shut the store down exists.

    Or am I mistaken about there being a presumption of innocence pending proof of guilt?

  10. Mark permalink
    September 29, 2009 3:34 PM

    I’d avoid using the raw sewage term in your post. We all know that Milwaukee doesn’t give a rat’s behind about where it throws its sewage.

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