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


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

WAUSAU - The husband of one of four victims killed in Wednesday afternoon's shooting string wants people to focus on love, respect, and hope.

Sarah Quirt Sann, 43, died after a gunman shot her at the Tlusty, Kennedy, and Dirks law firm in Schofield.

Thursday, her husband, Scott Sann, posted a statement on Facebook thanking people for their support and encouraged people to make educated and mature statements about the shootings.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - It takes a lot of training to become a wildland firefighter, but 26 people in Lac du Flambeau are well on their way.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs- Great Lakes Agency offered a five-day course on Wildland Fire Training this week.

Many of the participants hope to make a career out of it.

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RHINELANDER - The Wednesday afternoon shootings in Schofield, Rothschild, and Weston sent several nearby police departments streaming into the area.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team was one of the many outside departments on scene with their armor rescue truck.

Even though the shootings took place nearly 70 miles away from Rhinelander, Sheriff Grady Hartman said their job is to serve and protect, no matter the circumstances.

"We're use to the mutual aid system as when another jurisdiction requests our help. We're able to go and assist them. And likewise if we had a similar incident we would request under mutual aid for other officers and deputies to come help us," said Hartman.

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MERRILL - You might want to grab your favorite flannel to suit up for this celebration.

Sawmill Brewing Company in Merrill will celebrate one year of beer Saturday. 

The craft brewery has 16 Wisconsin craft beers on tap: six are their own. 
 
At first, the Sawmill owners didn't know what the community would think.

"They've taken it by storm. There are so many people that are referring to this as our brewery, which is really what we wanted. We wanted to build something in Merrill that they could come to and enjoy," said owner Zach Kubichek. 
 
To celebrate its one year anniversary, there will be a special batch of "River Hog" oatmeal stout. 

Sawmill put the beer in a Northern Waters Distillery bourbon barrel for the last few months. 

"We just set it aside for a few months. And it's kind of like, 'I hope it works out.' Then all of a sudden we were kegging it, and we had to hook up a contraption like a science experiment and had to hook up a little contraption," said Kubichek, "It turned out fantastic I tried it yesterday and it will be ready to go for Saturday." 

You have one shot at tasting the special brew; there is only a half barrel for the special anniversary.

Beer doesn't take any breaks; Sawmill Brewing Company stays open seven days a week.

The one-year anniversary celebration starts at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The day will be full of live music, raffles, and of course, beer.


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WESTON - Everest Metro Police Chief Wally Sparks held back tears in front of a crowded press conference on Thursday afternoon.

"Jason was a phenomenal officer, and he was part of our family," he said, taking a long pause. "It's difficult."

Sparks was talking about Detective Jason Weiland, who was identified Thursday as one of four people killed by a shooter Wednesday afternoon in the greater Wausau area. Weiland was a 15-year veteran of the Everest Metro Police Department, and had served in law enforcement for 18 years.

Two bank employees and a lawyer were also identified as people killed by the shooter.

We still don't know the name of that suspect, but on Thursday, we learned he is a 45-year-old Weston resident. That shooter suffered bullet wounds as part of a standoff, and is expected to survive. He's in custody at a local hospital.

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MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department changed its lights from white to blue on Thursday.

In honor of the police officer that died in Wednesday's shooting in Wausau.

Detective Jason Weiland served the Everest Metro Police Department for 15 years.

His death hit home for local men and women in uniform.

"We always talk about the active shooters and all that kind of stuff happens in a big city and it's never going to happen here. Now we have one in Wausau, we are fully prepared that at some point of time in the future it could happen in our community or our response area," said Merrill Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Drury.

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RHINELANDER - Father Randy Knauf thought about history as he walked the aisles of a church he once went to as a boy, knowing soon this church down to the very pew he once sat in... Will completely change.

"It's a 'starting again,'" Knauf said.

Knauf took over as pastor at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Rhinelander last year. He's helped lead a multi-million dollar redesign of St. Mary's church's 55-year-old worship space.

"We expect to be a little tight this summer, but it's worth it in the long run," Knauf said.

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