By Srijan Sen
On April 12, a vehicle accidentally struck and fatally wounded 2-year-old Damani Terry who wandered into the streets on the northwest side of Milwaukee while no adult was looking.
The distraught driver, Archie Brown Jr., 40, exited his vehicle to tend to the boy and potentially call for help.
As Terry’s 15-year-old brother Rasheed Chiles alerted the family of the boy, a man now identified as the uncle of Terry, Ricky Ricardo Chiles III, 37, brought out a gun and murdered Brown. A stray bullet also fatally wounded the younger Chiles during the violent confrontation.
Four days later, Chiles III was found hiding at a Chicago-area hotel. As authorities closed in with a warrant for his arrest, Chiles III committed suicide, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn told reporters.
The aftermath of this tragic incident raised the oft-deliberated questions about gun control and criminal intention, however the city’s Mayor and law enforcement officials have released conflicting statements about their proposal to address rising level of crime on streets.
Mayor Barrett (D) held a press conference on the morning after the shooting to address this tragedy while criticizing Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature for passing laws that put more guns on the streets.
Barrett called for more resources to deal with all the violence in Milwaukee.
“I do want to lock up more people who do get involved in gunfights in parks, in streets, outside taverns because black lives matter,” said Mayor Barrett.
The Mayor also mentioned that homicides rates are up by 160 percent this year and believes the state government at Madison is not sharing responsibility to adequately tackle a growing menace.
The very next day, County Sheriff David Clarke shot back at Mayor Barrett on Fox News, accusing the Mayor of playing on partisan talking points to score political mileage. Barrett is on the board of Mayors Against the Second Amendment – Michael Bloomberg’s political advocacy group – that Sheriff Clarke was quick to point out as the Milwaukee Mayor “regurgitating from Michael Bloomberg’s antigun talking points memo.”
Defending Wisconsin’s concealed carry laws, Clarke criticized Mayor Barrett for furloughing officers and not committing enough financial resources to the department in order to tackle the burgeoning issue of crime.
“Mayor Barrett has not properly filled the staffing level of the Milwaukee Police Department,“ said Sheriff Clarke.
“They are about two to three hundred officers short.”
Although Clarke’s statement came after the press conference on Monday, Mayor Barrett addressed the issue of staffing in his speech.
“No increase in police staffing levels would have prevented the horrific tragedy on 48th Street,” said Mayor Barrett.
“So there has to be something else and another way for us to deal with these issues.”
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn replied to Sheriff Clarke’s comments by bringing up loose concealed carry laws in Wisconsin.
In an interview with reporters, Flynn said the department doesn’t believe it is smart law when career criminals buy weapons on the streets without any backgrounds checks and qualify for concealed carry permits.
Flynn asserted that he is not against concealed carry law for law-abiding citizens, noting his various appointments in states that have a rational permitting process making it a felony to illegally own guns.
“We’re the only state where it is a felony for second arrest of carry pot while carrying a gun illegally is a misdemeanor,” said Chief Flynn. “Can you tell me how that makes sense?”
Chief Flynn said Milwaukee County arrested the same number of people as New York City for illegally carrying guns, but criminals aren’t concerned when the highest penalty for the crime is a misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, April 21, Wisconsin state legislature approved a bill to remove a 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases that has been in place for four decades.
Sen. Van Wanggaard (R) called the requirement outdated and said this change will eliminate the need to make two trips to a gun store.