Badger Guns In West Milwaukee Should Be Forced Out Of Business

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.”


36 thoughts on “Badger Guns In West Milwaukee Should Be Forced Out Of Business

  1. Mark

    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.

  2. Kurt Hofmann

    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?

    1. 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……..

      1. Jenifer Jaecks

        You could make the same comment regarding drunk driving victims, yet you do not call for shutting down liquor stores, bars, or breweries… or GM, Toyota, or any other auto maker for providing the vehicle…

        What EXACTLY do you propose Badger does to prevent straw purchases? “Tighten security”? Have you been IN Badger? These people’s lives and livelihoods depend on security as well as following the law.

        I’ve filled out background papers at four different stores to purchase firearms (including Badger), and the paperwork and procedures are exactly the same

        1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope before you make other comments about other topics you think I have an opinion on that you please browse this blog first.

          I have called for bar owners to be liable for the actions of their drunk customers they serve who then kill someone while driving after leaving the bar. (I have held bars to the same level as this dreadful gun store.) I have called for new standards required for snowmobilers and drinking. I have ripped the Tavern League for their actions. I used to work with the State Assembly and have seen the lobbyists for both the TL and NRA….and I can tell you they both reek.

          I also have like-wise called for those who manufacture certain guns that are used for murder to be liable for the product they sell.

          As the police have noted there is a problem with Badger Guns. As a citizen of this state I am concerned. As a human being who reads of the tens of thousands who are killed every year because of handguns I am concerned and saddened. Our nation is just crazy in this regard.

          The old lame responses are offered by the NRA types over and over. I even had a comment about baseball bats being used as weapons….so you see the type of ‘logic’ that is used here.

          1. Luis

            Let us say that Badger wwould close down, lets say all gun stores would close down, what would happen? i’m sure people would find other means of violence. Besides guns, people have killed with knives, ropes, baseball bats, and even plastic bags. Would you see all the places that sold these items closed down because many people bought from hese places possibly because of a low price? At least with a gun it can be traced back to the buyer and can eventually lead to the criminal that actually did the crime. There are always going be pointless deaths and injuries, whether Badger is here or not.

            1. Luis,

              To pretend that the number of people that are killed by guns would then still take place with a knife, rope or bag is absurd. Can you imagine the class that was slaughtered not having a better chance of survival with a person coming at them with with a rope or knife.

              Your ‘talking point’ is the same hackneyed crap that is so old and lame that proves to me the NRA has run out of ideas to counter with.

              There are too many guns. They are in some cases too cheap and easy to buy. There are not enough regulations to keep them out of the hands of those who should never have them. There are not enough regulations about the type of amno that can be sold or the number of weapons one should be allowed to own.

              I know that all these are flash points for a certain demographic in the nation. But education is the only way to reach out and make policy changes, and this blog will stay focused on that mission.

              1. James

                That’s absolutely absurd. There are plenty of regulations in place to keep guns out of the hands of criminals!

                The problem is that they simply are not enforced. If you are a convicted felon, and get caught with a gun, you’re supposed to go back to PRISON… how many of these real bad guys do you think actually get there? Prosecutors and lawmakers would rather keep these people on the streets than send them away.

                If you commit a crime with a gun, you should go to prison, PERIOD. If you are a convicted felon caught with a gun, you should go to prison, PERIOD. If you straw buy or knowingly sell a gun to a convicted felon, you should go to prison, PERIOD. More laws and regulations? How about more ENFORCEMENT!

                As a proud NRA member, I am all for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. I also am all for enforcement of the current laws we have. Everyone’s soloution is “more laws”. For what? More laws that won’t be enforced?

                You say “education is the answer” well maybe you should get educated on the gun laws before talking out your behind that “there’s not enough regulations.” Do a little research before you make a fool out of yourself.

              2. Lynne

                “To pretend that the number of people that are killed by guns would then still take place with a knife, rope or bag is absurd.”

                So you haven’t heard about the mass stabbings at several schools in Japan? That’s a country with strict gun laws. The killer wanted to kill, and he used a knife to do it.

                Personally, I go to Fletcher’s in Waukesha to practice. But if Badger was doing something illegal, the local police & ATF would certainly come down on them like a ton of bricks.

                1. You can’t compare the killings you mention to the tens of thousands who die every year in America from guns. There just is no way to link the two…at all!! And yes, the local police were looking into the problems at Badger…that was what the newspaper articles were all about……..

  3. Scott

    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.

  4. strandedinIowa

    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.

    1. 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!

  5. strandedinIowa

    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.

    1. Duncan O'Neil

      “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. ”

      Excellent point! No one ever mentions that! But if the gun wasn’t stolen why did it have to be “traced back to” Badger?

  6. Chuck

    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

  7. nickferis

    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???

  8. Griffin

    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.

  9. James

    Deke, you keep blaming BADGER for simply doing what they do- selling guns. Should we shut down Shooter’s Shop, Fletchers, Dunhams, Gander Mountain and Cabelas (etc) as well? They all sell guns. Those guns have the same opprotunity to end up in the wrong hands.

    If someone is legal to buy a gun, and their background check comes back OK, and there is no reason to suspect that they are straw buying… why should Badger NOT sell them the gun? I’ve bought guns from Badger. They do everything legit. They don’t skimp on security, or let you bypass any paperwork, or skip the background check.

    Badger is doing everything legally. Maybe we should impose tougher, mandatory sentences on straw buyers. Wisconsin is the only state where straw buying is only a misdemeanor. That means that straw buyers can CONTINUE straw buying! How ridiculous is that? You buy a gun for someone who isn’t supposed to have one, and instead of losing your freedom, or AT LEAST your freedom to buy guns, you get a slap on the wrist and move on to the next “buddy” who needs a gun.

    Maybe you should put your blame where it belongs.

  10. Brian

    You need to “get a clue”, dekerivers.

    Firstly, anger is not an emotion that has any positive outcome. You may not like something, but to be emotional about it will always cloud your better judgment.

    Secondly, those kids (gladiators in training) you reach out to have been steeped in the “crime is cool ’cause my music says so” culture that supercedes your good intentions. It also goes far beyond single parents and low income, but that is another topic entirely.

    This whole story is akin to the mob mentality that we should go after Jack Daniel’s Distillery because 10 year-old Billy got into the liquor cabinet. It is ridiculous. Badger Guns has to go through the same background checks and procedures like ANY other seller.

    This is a witch hunt. Plain and simple.

    In reality, if there were no guns to buy, then we would be looking into which garden the rock came from, or which tree the stick was taken from.

    Time to wake up and look back on thousands of years of human violence. Put an end to that and you may have something.

    Until that day, do something actually useful: Look into the differences between a Police Force and peacekeepers. We used to have them. Report about why we no longer do..

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