Protest held on East Side in favor of stricter gun laws

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Less than a week after Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn renewed his calls for stricter gun laws, protesters gathered to demand universal background guns on all gun sales.

Paul Geenen rallied a group of about two dozen at the corner of North and Farwell. They're calling for stricter gun laws -- specifically, background checks on all firearm sales.

"Something is better than nothing and police chiefs around the country have supported universal background checks. That's a start," Geenen said.

Among those police chiefs is Milwaukee's Ed Flynn, who testified in favor of stricter gun laws before a U.S. Senate committee.

With the focus Monday on background checks, the protesters told the story of Radcliffe Haughton, who in October, killed his estranged wife and two other women at the Azana Salon & Spa with a gun he bought online -- no background check needed.

Jeff Nass with Wisconsin Force says killers like Haughton would just find another way around universal background checks.

"That perpetrator that decided to do that was bound and determined to do it. It didn't matter if he went on ArmsList or on 6th Street or Water Street to pick one up," Nass said.

Nass says the focus should be on courtrooms instead of Capitols.

"Do you believe it's too easy for a criminal to get a gun? No, I think the criminals don't seem to be punished when they use firearms. They don't stay in jail long enough or even go to jail sometimes," Nass said.

The East Side organizations argue if background checks make it just slightly more difficult for a criminal to get a gun, then it's worth it.

"It won't solve, it won't clean up all the crime in the world, but it would be a start and it would be a deterrent," Geenen said.

State Rep. Jon Richards said he'd like to see universal background checks as a federal law. However, he said if that doesn't happen, he's drafting a bill that would require background checks for all gun sales in Wisconsin.

FBI gun background checks topped two million in February, for the fourth straight month. That's the third highest month on record since the system began in late 1998.

According to the FBI, more than 20,000 people failed the background check.

There has been increased demand for firearms after tragedies like the school shooting in Connecticut.

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