Gun rights group threatens lawsuit over Baraboo ordinance requiring security cameras at gun shops
BARABOO, Wis. — With new cameras in place, Jim Astle is hoping what happened this summer doesn’t happen again.
In July, two people stole two guns from his shop, Jim’s Gun Supply. Police were able to track down the people responsible, but they only found one of the guns.
At the time, he didn’t have any cameras. He’s fixing that now.
“If the cameras had been there (the police) could have seen it, delivered on it right away, went after the right person, and got both guns back,” Astle said. “They got one. The other one’s in the wind. It’s gone. We have no clue where that other one is.”
Baraboo Police Chief Mark Schauf said these types of guns are the most dangerous ones.
“It impacts everything, from the drug world to human trafficking, all these different areas, and guns are a traded commodity,” Schauf said.
It was after this incident that one of his officers came up with the idea for an ordinance that’s one of the first of its kind, requiring gun shops, such as Astle’s, to have security cameras and keep the footage for 90 days.
“I think the ordinance is actually a smart idea,” Astle said. “I feel I’m at fault for not having the system. I should have had something like this.”
Nik Clark, the president of Wisconsin Carry, a gun rights group, said the move is unlawful.
His organization is looking at filing a lawsuit against Baraboo, based on Wisconsin Statute 66.0409, which says essentially that municipalities can’t regulate the sale of firearms. Clark said the sale having to be on camera counts.
In order to file a lawsuit, the organization needs to find someone hurt by the ordinance who can be the plaintiff in the case. All the current gun shops in the city are already in compliance or working on it, so Clark’s next step is finding a future shop owner who might take issue with the ordinance.
“We believe Baraboo should be following state law,” he said. “If anybody should be obeying the law, it should certainly be government.”
Schauf disagrees with that interpretation.
“It is just a means for us to have an investigative tool if we need it later on,” he said.
Astle, who is also in law enforcement and sees the benefits of having cameras in investigations, said he’s happy to comply.
“In one way, I’m glad I got this system,” he said. “I don’t like the way it happened, but this system’s pretty cool.”
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