The impact of gun violence in has radically altered the lives of Milwaukee families.
On May 15, Kendrai Walker 18, was shot and killed near 28th and Burleigh Streets. The following day, five people were shot while gathered at a vigil for Walker, including his mother Debra Hopkins.
In April, Archie Brown, Jr., 40, accidentally hit a 2-yearold who wandered into the street, with his van. When Brown stopped to help the child, a family member retaliated and not only fatally shot Brown, but also accidentally shot his own 15-yearold nephew Rasheed Chiles.
This all occurred this year before the month of June, and it seems the rate of violence is mounting.
Some community members are calling for new tactics to deter gun violence in the city.
According to the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), there have been 62 gun-related homicides in the city of Milwaukee, as compared to 29 at the same time in 2014.
In 2014, there were 86 total homicides.
Non-fatal shootings in 2014 totaled 512. So far in 2015, there have been 201 nonfatal shootings, compared to 156 this time a year ago.
The MPD released a statement, saying, “In partnership with the community, we will create and maintain neighborhoods capable of sustaining civic life.
We commit to reducing the levels of crime, fear and disorder through community based, problem-oriented and data-driven policing.”
Fred Royal, president of the Milwaukee NAACP, believes that Milwaukee needs to welcome more community- based policing.
“Currently, there has been more police brutality rather than the neighborhood oriented police that was prevalent when I was growing up in Milwaukee.”
Royal also believes that lacking job opportunities are helping to fuel this year’s surge in crime.
“Chronic unemployment for Black men, the sheer lack of hope and opportunity hurt. Black men are treated less than human,” Royal said.
“Men need a sense of value in the community.”
State lawmakers are currently working on legislation that, if passed, will help to reduce Milwaukee’s growing gun violence by getting violators off the streets.
A 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that handgun purchasers who were convicted of one violent misdemeanor were 10 times more likely to be charged for a new criminal activity and that criminal activity is 15 times more likely to be a violent crime.
For handgun purchasers with no prior criminal record, 90 percent remained crime free after the purchase.
The study illustrates a strong correlation between prior convictions, including misdemeanors and a future risk of more violent crimes after the gun purchase.
There is evidence that law-abiding citizens have a small risk of committing a violent crime when purchasing a handgun.
The challenge is keeping guns out of the hands of people who break the law.
Representative LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) is cosponsoring the Violent Misdemeanant and Habitual Offender firearm restriction bill that will try to keep guns out of the hands of repeat offenders.
This bill attempts to balance public safety concerns against arming criminals and keeping with the 2nd Amendment rights for law abiding gun owners by enacting a 10-year gun prohibition for certain convicted violent misdemeanants and individuals deemed to be habitual criminals.
Under this bill, a person may not possess a firearm for 10 years if he or she is convicted of three or more misdemeanors within a five-year period or he or she was convicted of a violent misdemeanor.
Violators would be guilty of a felony and subject to a term up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $25,000, or both.
Royal referred to a quote by Frederick Douglass to concerning the violence in Milwaukee.
“The American people have this to learn: Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and when any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress and degrade them, neither person nor property will be safe.”