RACINE COUNTY — Over the last three months since the Newtown, Conn., shooting rampage, ideas about proposed gun legislation have filled the news, in Washington and here in Wisconsin.

Those proposals range from universal background checks to banning the sale of assault weapons and limiting the capacity of magazines. This week, The Journal Times asked Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling to weigh in on the gun debate and explain how he feels about the proposals.

What is your opinion about universal background checks, where checks would occur for private individuals selling guns and guns sold at gun shows?

I am opposed to any regulation that would require a farmer in Waterford, for example, to somehow conduct and/or pay for a background check on the neighboring farmer to whom he wanted to sell a firearm. I am equally opposed to an uncle being required to conduct and/or pay for a background check in order to sell his nephew a deer rifle at deer camp in the North Woods.

Rather than trying to strip away our constitutional rights, I believe lawmakers need to define private sales and retail sales. More regulation will increase straw purchases. If a criminal is bent on doing evil, he or she will simply find a weapon on the street or solicit a third party to make the weapon purchase.

How do you feel about limiting magazine sales to those with a maximum capacity of 10 bullets?

Placing limits on magazine capacity will do absolutely nothing to stop or curb firearm violence. Anyone with minimal practice can change a magazine in seconds. A simple YouTube search will show many examples.

How do you feel about proposals to ban assault weapon sales? Are they a problem in our community?

A ban on so-called “assault rifles” will do nothing to curb violence or firearm violence. We have nothing to fear from law-abiding citizens owning firearms. It is the criminal who possesses a firearm who is dangerous and who clearly ignores the gun laws.

Evil people who are intent on killing will do so irrespective of any weapon ban or magazine capacity limit. It really is common sense. It is my job as your sheriff to protect the constitutional rights of our law-abiding citizens, including the Second Amendment, not restrain them.

There are also proposals to make straw purchases (a purchase wherein an agent agrees to acquire a good or service for someone who is unable or unwilling to purchase the good or service himself) a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. Are straw purchases a problem in Racine County and should the law change?

I support felony charges for “straw purchases” just like I support swift and severe punishment for those who commit violence of any form against innocents.

What is your department doing to try to keep guns out of criminals’ hands?

We are always vigilant when it comes to criminals illegally possessing any sort of gun. We regularly conduct investigations in that vein. A perfect example is a search warrant we executed Thursday morning in Burlington where we seized a substantial amount of illegal drugs and a number of weapons, including an AK-47.

Do you have any idea how criminals in our area are obtaining guns? Is there anything more that could be done to keep them out of their hands?

There are virtually countless ways criminals obtain guns. They are sold in the black market on the street from criminal to criminal, stolen during residential burglaries, traded for drugs, etc.

Citizens who own firearms are encouraged to lock them up safely in their homes, making it difficult for burglars to steal and safe for our friends and family members.

In the gun debate that is going on now, what information do you think is important to point out to the public?

Rather than infringing on the constitutional rights of our citizenry, we should be concentrating on stiffer sentences for criminals who commit violence, including gun violence, against innocent law-abiding citizens. What’s more, changes in the mental health laws that would assist law enforcement in identifying, helping, and potentially stopping individuals with significant mental health issues from committing violent acts would be a huge step in the right direction. Evil criminals and disturbed individuals are the ones committing the violent crime, not decent law-abiding citizens.

It is also important to point out that nationwide between 1992 and 2011, the violent crime rate in the U.S. has fallen by almost 50 percent (from 757.7 crimes per 100,000 to 386.3 per 100,000). What’s more, both the murder rate and the violent crime rates are lower today than in 2004 when the so-called “assault weapon” ban was lifted. The source is the FBI’s uniform crime statistics.

This sums up how I feel about the proposals: We must not allow the actions of a few cowards who are bent on evil to promote any laws that infringe upon the Constitutional liberties of responsible and law-abiding citizens in Racine County.

(21) comments

MikeCarey

Scmaling says" Placing limits on magazine capacity will do absolutely nothing to stop or curb firearm violence. Anyone with minimal practice can change a magazine in seconds. A simple YouTube search will show many examples."
Hey Scmaling! Some people speed. Still. Extending the argument you use here we should eliminate speeding laws. This is so typically a conservative republican position, that the rhetoric could have been said by any of them. It's unintelligent when other politicians make that argument and its unintelligent when he makes it.

whateverusay

Interesting: violent crimes have trended downward yet Wisconsin's prison population is two and a half times larger than Minnesota and growing. We pay well over a billion dollars a year to house prisoners and it just keeps going up - which keeps the Sheriff's department hiring.

Schmaling isn't interested in common sense laws - he's interested in keeping the money train prison pay day going.

Joeboy5471

The sheriff's position on gun control is the correct, common sense approach to the problem/issue. The Newtown shooting was definitely a tragic act, but it must be said in the same breath, an act by a mentally ill person who should not have access to a gun. The Liberal position regarding guns is that they would like to see no guns in the hands of private owners in the US, despite what they say in defense of the 2nd Amendment. This was the position in 1993 and is now the same position they have in 2013 in the form of the Assault Weapons Ban. Get these guns off the street and then they would peck or eat away at other types and classes of guns until they have banned or controlled all of them as was done in AU and the UK. Expanding the "Background Check" system in its current form is also a waste of time. Legislation is being proposed in WI to do this and should be opposed similarly as it is apposed on the federal level. If anything that needs to be done it is to fix the current NIC system and make sure that the data base is populated with the names of all known felons and people who are severely mentally ill.
Prosecuting gun crimes in the US is going to cost taxpayer's money, but unfortunately it needs to be done to protect society. The federal and state governments in the US are real good at passing laws to correct problems, but have a track record of poor performance when it comes to arresting and prosecuting individuals who break those laws.

Relocate

Sheriff Schmaling proves time and again why we voted for him. Efficient lean government, top tier services, and someone who understands the constitution. Lock em up Chris!!!

ordmm

Next election Sheriff Schmaling gets my vote! Common sense approach is quite refreshing. And he even got elected without giving away free Brewers tickets!

isthereabsolutetruth

Wow! Talk about a man who makes sense being our Sheriff'. All those who are stupid enough to want to outlaw guns should listen to this man who knows the constitution and the reasons for its being written the way it is. The quote of the day is (it may not be exact), "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." This includes government types who keep buying guns and ammo. The DHS now has enough ammo for about 10 rounds of some of the most destructive bullets available.per person living in the US. Why?

Blindman
Blindman

The fed gov't is out of control...Don't rule out Marshall Law...The American people are aware of what's going on,that's why any store you go to to buy bullets have empty shelves.

Silencio

Stiffer sentences work as much as background checks do. Stop wasting taxpayer money Chris. Storing all the "bad people" costs taxpayer's cash. The magic 8 ball says "Try again"...He doesn't have a solution, just like Congress doesn't have a solution. The same folks that are crying about taxes, are the same ones that say "lock em up and throw away the key!"...who do you think pays for that? The prison fairy? The only solution is "recognize, react and terminate"...if you fire a gun at someone, be prepared to lose your life. If we all were packing, we wouldn't need the Sheriffs Dept, would we? More tax payer savings.

Even More Tired

You're a boob. If the mope is locked up, he can't commit the crime you dolt!

Silencio

Nice name calling. If someone's dead, they can't be locked up, can they? Shoot to kill. I'd rather not spend any money. You keep spending yours, okay? Wipe your butt, your face is drooling.

Even More Tired

a dead mope is good too, sure!

Silencio

Until he gets out and comes after you. Then, you wonder why someone let him go, right? You're a circle of "reaction." Keep your head in the sand.

Joeboy5471

The program to give "Free Cell Phones" to low income individuals in the US is run and managed by the cell phone providers and no public money is spent on this program.

Even More Tired

Id rather spend money locking up pukes who commit crime than giving those same pukes free cell phones!!!

Reasonable One

I'm glad the the citizens of Racine County elected someone such as Sheriff Schmaling! Additionally, I wish the media would stop using the incorrect term of 'assault weapon'. What they are actual talking about are semi-automatics. They are intentionally misleading those that do not know the difference.

Sebastian

Actually, you are wrong, too. A semi-automatic weapon is one that shoots one bullet per trigger pull. What everybody who wants to ban guns MEANS (I hope) when they say "semi-automatic" is (or should be) "AUTOMATIC." An automatic is a weapon (like the AK-47) that will keep shooting bullets as long as you keep the trigger pulled. That is an assault weapon. There is a HUGE difference between them!

The Underground Conservative

I stand with Sheriff Schmaling and Sheriff Clarke.

Even More Tired

We need more of this type of leadership in our area law enforcement officials. I agree with Urban...Bravo to the Sheriff and his crew, you guys to a fabulous job!

stephen_wood

Good God. Our sheriff is one of those wackos. Who knew.

Blindman
Blindman

stephen_wood...Many "Real Americans" think that YOU are one of those "wackos" and don't share your anti-American views.

Urban Pioneer

Wow I have to say, I was somewhat concerned that Sheriff Schmaling wasn't as Center right as I had hoped. But clearly when it comes right down to it.he's standing with Sheriff Clarke on the issues that matter. Bravo Chris..if you run again, you have my full support!

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