Janesville (WKOW) — Following three gun shop burglaries this week, Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, renewed her call Wednesday for a hearing on a bill that would require guns be secured when gun shops are closed.
Police spent Wednesday investigating break-ins at gun shops in Janesville and the village of Oregon. That follows Monday’s break-in at the same Janesville gun shop that former fugitive Joseph Jakubowski burglarized in April.
Jakubowski was recently convicted of stealing 18 guns and two suppressors from Armageddon Supply, before leading authorities on a 10-day manhunt.
Last October, thieves smashed a car into the front window of a Cross Plains gun shop and were able to get away with 14 firearms. Some of them have been recovered and there are persons of interest in the crime, but no one has been charged, according to Dane County sheriff’s officials.
In Monday’s burglary at Janesville’s Armageddon Supply, seven handguns and a silencer were stolen.
In Wednesday’s burglary at Max Creek Outdoors gun shop in the village of Oregon, 17 guns were taken.
Thieves stole money, but no weapons were taken from CTR firearms in Janesville, because they were locked away, according to Janesville police.
"I do not want to get a phone call saying some child was shot with a gun that was removed from my store. Period," said Chris Endres, owner of CTR. "I swore from day one our guns would never be un-secure."
He installed a reinforced vault inside the shop to store the guns safely. Before that, employees were locking up the hundreds of guns in a safe every night. Endres says a car could go into the store and it wouldn’t break through the protected room.
Subeck’s bill would require shop owners to secure their weapons in gun cabinets or safes with rod-and-cable locks when the stores are closed. Federal rules currently only require gun shops owners to lock their store entrance doors securely after-hours.
"Gun shops have a responsibility in the community," Subeck said. "You operate in the community, you sell firearms in our community, and when you do that you have an obligation to do it in a way that keeps our community safe."
Subeck has visited CTR Firearms and other gun shops in the area. She says many of them have protections in place, but others do not, so she wants to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals. Subeck hasn’t gotten much response from lawmakers over her bill.
Gov. Scott Walker said he hasn’t seen the proposal, but he’s not sure if it would be necessary.
"I would think if that became an epidemic that far, before any bill or legislation, that most places would want to do that, just like other businesses, jewelry stores and others, put things away because they want to keep them safe," Walker said.
After these recent incidents, Rep. Subeck is now asking a committee for a public hearing on her bill, to get some response from the community on the proposal. She’s hopeful it can become a bipartisan effort to keep the community safe.
Meanwhile, investigators are looking into whether these crimes are connected.
"The question is, what are they doing with the guns that are being taken?" Rock County Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Christiansen told 27 News. "We’re talking over 20 guns total so far in just a couple days."
Christiansen says guns stolen from local stores have turned up over the years involved in crimes in Milwaukee and Chicago.