Shipyard shooting, violent summer in Milwaukee re-ignite debate over guns

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Monday's mass shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Shipyard has re-ignited the gun debate in the United States. In fact, relatives of those who have lost their lives in recent mass shootings, including those in Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado, at Virginia Tech -- and even in Wisconsin, at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek were set to testify in the nation's capital just days after this latest mass shooting. The group, which calls itself a family none of its members ever wanted to be a part of, are advocating universal background checks on all firearms purchases.

Meanwhile, the debate came to Milwaukee Tuesday night, September 17th, as a gun violence forum was held as a means of advancing the ongoing debate.

Michael "Shorty" Govas sells guns at Shorty's Shooting Sports on S. 60th Street in West Allis -- and he says he sells security.

"The best way to stop the bad guy with the gun is a good guy with the gun," Govas said.

However, the re-ignited debate over firearms, freedoms and public safety could impact more than just how Govas does business.

Dozens showed up to the Wisconsin Black Historical Society on Tuesday evening to ask state lawmakers and police what they are doing to crack down on gun violence.

The city of Milwaukee has seen an extremely violent summer. August 2013 has been one of the most violent months city of Milwaukee officials can remember.

The violence we have seen in Milwaukee this summer prompted Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to sit down with President Obama and other mayors to discuss solutions to violence among youth.

Mayor Barrett says a group of mayors talked to President Obama about the way the federal government can help — from changes in education to FBI enforcement and gun legislation.

“If we had plane crashes every week where forty people are killed, the National Transportation Safety Board would be on this problem immediately — and what we have is a situation where people are being killed on the streets of this country between midnight and 4:00 a.m. on Friday nights on a weekly basis,” Mayor Barrett said.

Some have asked that the state step in to assist with Milwaukee policing.

Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee), a member of the Joint Finance Committee has announced he will be introducing legislation to provide for $500,000 in state matching funds to boost city policing in the city of Milwaukee.

Others say the guns are the problem.

"Dealing with violence isn't as simple as passing a bill and restricting guns, although I believe in that. We should have universal background checks in Milwaukee. We also need to tighten up laws on concealed weapons," one forum participant said.

"We can't have another summer like 2013. It was horrendous," another forum participant said.

The debate over guns has been re-ignited, after Aaron Alexis shot and killed 12 on Monday at Washington, D.C.'s Navy Shipyard.

On Tuesday, a day after Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and injured at least eight at the Washington Navy Yard, forensics teams and others are looking for answers.

Alexis, 34, an information technology contractor and former full-time Navy reservist, lived in Texas. He was killed in a confrontation with security.

Alexis entered Building 197 at Washington's Navy Yard with a small bag that is believed to contain a disassembled shotgun he used in the mass shooting, a federal law enforcement official says. Surveillance video shows Alexis ducking into a bathroom with the bag and leaving it with a shotgun, according to the source.

Alexis had 00 buckshot shells, each of which are packed with a dozen pellets and are capable of causing tremendous damage, the same law enforcement official says.

Govas argues restrictive gun laws there may have given Alexis more time to kill and says responsible gun owners would have stopped the threat sooner.

"With this latest incident in Washington, it boggles the mind because why weren't there any firearms in trained hands?" Govas said.

Govas says he believes national and local gun violence won't impact Wisconsin laws in the near-term. However, he says we'll see more talk about restricting what he sells going forward.

As for Milwaukee's violence problem, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says officers are combating the crime using statistical analysis and by focusing on hotspots.

“We’re continuing to concentrate on the 10% of offenders who to generate over 50% of our crime and 10% of locations that generate more than 60% of our crime,” Chief Flynn said.

Chief Flynn says those methods are putting officers in the right place at the right time, and their presence is making a difference.