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Under the Gun: The State of Gun Violence in Wis.Submitted: 02/13/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

Under the Gun: The State of Gun Violence in Wis.
MILWAUKEE - Owning a gun is a right in America in a way that doesn't exist in any other part of the world.

It's also at the heart of a vibrant sporting culture we're very familiar with here in the Northwoods.

But other parts of the state have a more contentious relationship with guns.

Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm was allowed to ride along with Milwaukee police officers. She sat down with the Chief of Police and the County Sheriff.

Up here in the North gun violence is statistically rare, but in some parts of Milwaukee, there's a battle going on between police and criminals.

"My God, there's 300 million weapons out there already," says Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn.

Flynn's officers seize 2,000 of them every year from criminals.

Though Milwaukee can be portrayed as a hotbed of crime, in reality only eight percent of city territory accounts for 90 percent of its violent crime.

"There are different kinds of gun violence. And I think the tragedy in Newtown has certainly focused the attention of our citizens on one type of gun violence. And that is the low probability, high hazard event of a mass murder," says Flynn.

Milwaukee police have had to deal with two in just a few short months.

"Both Azana Spa and Sikh temple shooting put our bomb techs right on the front line," says Captain Jason Smith, Milwaukee Police Intelligence Commander.

"The other type of violence is hand gun-related, and central city-related. And it's very much the phenomenon of people who are engaged in criminal enterprises murdering each other," says Flynn.

"A lot of guns are taken in burglaries," says Timothy Keller, an officer with the Milwaukee Police Department Tactical Enforcement Unit.

It does happen. But only eight to ten percent of guns used in crimes are stolen. There are other methods criminals are using to get their hands on guns.

"If they're not stolen you can get the straw purchases. We'll see cases like that here in local gun stores," says Keller.

"What we found was a large number of women that were purchasing the guns and then they ended up in a felon's hands," says Dr. Mallory O'Brien, from the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission.

That leaves law enforcement with the problem of how to keep criminals from getting guns, and finding the line between appropriate gun control and infringing on second amendment rights.

"The percentage of people who use firearms to commit violence, versus the overall population of gun owners... it's very small," says Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

"I think what you have to recognize, is where you stand on this issue often directly relates to where you live and your experience with firearms," says Flynn.

But people on the front lines dealing with gun violence agree it's not just a big city problem.

"Well it's not my problem. Well I guess it's not my problem if the right of an American to safety depends on their zip code, I guess It's not your problem," says Flynn.

Tomorrow we'll see how Chief Flynn and Sheriff Clarke think we should go about finding that balance between gun control and second amendment rights.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/21/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The nice weather we've been having will get some people in the mood for a bonfire or a BBQ, but the fire danger is still very high for much of the Northwoods. We talk to a local paramedic and a meat market employee about the dangers and how to stay safe while grilling.

Black bear sightings become more common in the area this time of year. We'll give you tips on how to keep those hungry bears out of your neighborhood.

And we'll show you how the city of Rhinelander is letting residents "Walk with the Mayor."

We'll bring you all this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - With sunny skies and warm temperatures people might want to get outside and start grilling or barbecuing.

But many counties in the Northwoods still face a very high risk for fire danger.

"It can start out as a little fire on the side of the garage and you turn away to call your dog from across the street and look back and your whole house is on fire," said Rhinelander firefighter paramedic Nicholas Heise.

Heise said the department has been busy this spring responding to more fires than usual.

"This year has been a pretty dry (season) as far as seasons go," said Heise.

That means fires will burn more rapidly and aggressively in high risk areas.

"I expect these fires to be very rapid and quickly escalate," said Heise.

Heise said some of the calls have been people grilling or barbecuing in their backyard.

"If you are grilling outside just make sure to keep a close eye on the charcoal grill," said Oneida County Deputy Sheriff Michael Baran.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander organization wanted to celebrate young adults making a difference in their community. 

Forward Rhinelander announced the first-ever "Top 40 Under 40" winners last week.

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RHINELANDER - The new "central hub" of Associated Bank in the Northwoods opened its doors Monday. 
 
Back in late-October, the bank broke ground on its new facility on the corner of Lincoln Street and Oneida Avenue. The new building brings employees from the other two buildings in downtown together. 

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WOODRUFF - Black bear sightings become more common this time of year.

As bears come out of hibernation, they tend to be pretty hungry.

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander's new mayor wants to start a conversation outside rather than inside city hall. 

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EAGLE RIVER - City water customers in Eagle River will see the effects of a brutally cold winter in 2014 four years later.

Starting this month, water bills will increase by an average of 50 percent. Cold weather in 2014 forced the city to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair water main freezes and breaks.

Low water bill revenues couldn't keep up.

"That winter of 2014 was probably the straw that kind of broke the camel's back that finally said, hey, you guys need to look at a rate increase," said city utility manager Pat Weber.

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