Answers for the JS Editorial Board on Gun Violence

After the Memorial Day violence carries over into to the summer months, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, as well as the newspaper’s usual suspects, typically pontificates about gun violence while offering few, if any, solutions to the problem.

Yesterday, the newspaper, again, gave its opinion, but offered only questions not solutions. Since the newspaper does not have a clue, I will answer their questions for them.

What will it take to get the message through to some that guns aren’t the way to solve disputes?

Long, long prison terms, including jail time — not probation — for every weapons offense. The newspaper does a disservice to the community by talking out of both sides of its mouth.  On one hand, they ask the aforementioned question; then, on the other, the newspaper puts forth James Causey and Eugene Kane to whine about black incarceration rates.  Causey went so far as to question the lengthy prison terms given to two men involved in the shooting of a Milwaukee police officer.

Why are some so eager to reach for their guns?

Because some people are simply thugs, think like thugs, and their anti-social behavior trumps the quality-of-life of the others in their neighborhoods.  Milwaukee does not need gun control; Milwaukee does need THUG control.  There are thousands of guns within five-square miles of where I live, but, in the past five years, no one has been shot.  If someone in my neighborhood flashed a gun, the local police would be flooded with 911 calls.  Calling the police and cooperating with investigators equates to putting up a “Thug Free Zone” sign.  If the criminal element is aware that they cannot intimate the populous and get away with crimes, they will move to another area where individuals are willing to turn a blind-eye to anti-social conduct.

Looking to explain gun violence, Mr. Causey and Mr. Kane often note that poverty is the root cause of gun violence.  I disagree.  There are many poor areas in rural Wisconsin where a plethora of guns and drugs —methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana — are present.  In these areas, however, there is very little gun violence.

Gun violence is unique to some areas of Milwaukee because of the city’s vibrant, open-air drug trade.  Operating a drug racket in a high area of prostitution is akin to having a license to print money.  After prostitutes turn a trick, they scamper to the local drug house to get their next fix.  Prostitutes also attract plenty of customers who also willing to buy drugs anonymously in these open-air markets.  Whatever criminal organization controls the turf containing these drug markets stands to make thousands of dollars of profit each and every day.  The competition for this turf is intense. Some of these criminal organizations actually refer to themselves as “nations,” and, like sovereign countries, use weapons to defend their territory or to conquer rivals.

To understand the thug culture one must also understand basic economics, typically a tough subject for liberals, who tend to think emotionally instead of rationally.  If city leaders want to reduce gun violence, they have three choices:

First, increase the opportunity costs for criminal drug gangs. This means draconian prison sentences — fifteen-year minimums for any type of drug trafficking offense and 25-year minimums for any type of crime involving a firearm.  I doubt the JS Editorial Board has the stomach for this approach, even though it would make a substantial difference.

Second, Wisconsin lawmakers could reduce and/or element the need for customers to patronize the turf controlled by criminal drug gangs.  This would require drug legalization of some sort and would result in other societal costs.  This type of legalization would likely result in more persons experimenting with hard drugs once the social stigma is removed.

As things stand politically, I do not see the JS Editorial Board, Mr. Causey, and liberals supporting the first option. Moreover, I doubt that the state legislature will support the latter approach.

There is, however, a viable third option, although it would require community buy-in, a chief-of-police willing to advocate for more boots on the ground and less Big Brother surveillance, and a mayor interested in doing more than conducting photo ops with the police chief.  This avenue calls for a well-run, decentralized area saturation patrol strategy (ASP), coupled with a strong, well-funded detective bureau.  Retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis has written an easy to read book about this topic.  With shipping, the cost is about $15.

Frankovis’ book should be mandatory reading for the JS Editorial Board and for Mr. Causey.  The brilliance of the ASP strategy is its laser-like approach based on intelligence gathered from the community.  ASP is also cost effective.  At Districts Five and Three, Captain Frankovis implemented this strategy absent the usual bureaucratic complaints of inadequate staffing.

Why is it so easy for the wrong people to end up with guns in their hands?

We live in a free society and, unless substantial penalties for transferring firearms to prohibited persons actually occur, guns will fall into the hands of bad people.  After all, drugs are illegal, and yet controlled substances manage to find their way to Milwaukee after being harvested, manufactured, and packaged in South America and parts of Asia.

Personally, I would pass and then strictly enforce statutes in Wisconsin that mimic federal laws on firearms.  This means a 15-year minimum for a second firearms offense and a 25-year to life minimum for a third firearms related offense.  Without this type of tough sentencing, the JS Editorial Board’s discussion of the matter amounts to little more than bloviating.  These types of sentences will significantly impact the black community, which will cause the usual suspects — those who complain about gun violence, but, in reality, besides midnight basketball, offer no solutions — carping about prison sentences handed out to the thug element.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at


If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.


For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.


© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014


5 Responses

  1. The Bystander

    I guess when you’re a former Milwaukee cop everyone looks like a “thug”

    July 28, 2014 at 4:57 pm

  2. Steve Spingola

    No, not everyone “looks like a thug.” The “thugs” are those who indiscriminately discharge firearms in an urban environment only to strike little children. They sell drugs because they choose not to work a legitimate job and then threaten those who work with the police to throw their criminal behinds in prison.

    July 28, 2014 at 8:57 pm

  3. Glenn D. Frankovis

    Hey bystander, maybe you need to get some experience and/or talk with the good people who live in neighborhoods terrorized by street thugs before you make statements like that. This editorial from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from a few years back might help you.

    July 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm

  4. Glenn D. Frankovis

    In case you can’t open the link, here’s how they end their editorial: “Anyone who would open fire on a crowd is a thug whose continued freedom a community cannot tolerate.”

    July 28, 2014 at 9:24 pm

  5. Glenn D. Frankovis

    Here’s another one from your Mayor: ”
    “A 4-year-old girl died last night. A 4-year-old girl was shot and killed last night in our city. … Some gutless thug decided he would solve his problem by shooting a 4-year-old girl. What a tough guy. He can brag about that to all of his buddies, that he took out a 4-year-old girl.” – Mayor Tom Barrett


    Posted: May 15, 2007

    As a record-warm day in Milwaukee faded Monday into mellow twilight, 4-year-old Jasmine Owens was outside her home, doing what she loved – skipping rope.

    “She was just full of life and jumping her rope,” neighbor Janet Triggs said Tuesday of Jasmine Owens. “She had a gorgeous smile.” A bullet from a passing vehicle struck the 4-year-old girl Monday evening outside her home.
    Family and friends gather on a porch Tuesday in 2800 block of N. 29th St. in Milwaukee, where a 4-year-old girl was shot and killed while jumping rope Monday night.

    Around 8:20 p.m., a dark sport utility vehicle drove down the street. Witnesses saw one, maybe two, of the four to five men inside open fire.

    Jasmine became the latest child to die as an unintended victim of a drive-by shooting.

    On Tuesday, as Jasmine’s family and neighbors struggled to absorb the tragedy, community leaders lashed out at the shooters and vowed this would not be a summer of unchecked violence.

    Through the day, neighbors near Jasmine’s home on N. 29th St. came over with meals, flowers and stuffed animals to talk with Jasmine’s mother, who wept on her front porch. Her family said she hadn’t slept since the shooting, and she declined to talk with a reporter.

    Jasmine’s grandmother, Lorraine Johnson, who lives at the home, said the little girl known to family as Juicy “was a loving, caring, joyful, funny child.”

    Johnson said people were out enjoying the warm evening when the shooting occurred.

    “It was like the whole neighborhood was just filled with people,” she said. “We were just kicking it.”

    In the spray of gunfire, Jasmine was struck in the head. She was taken to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, where she died about 9 p.m.

    A 26-year-old man on the sidewalk near Jasmine was wounded in the leg; police said he appeared to be the intended target of Monday night’s attack. The man was treated at a hospital and taken into police custody on charges of obstructing an officer. Investigators suspect the man, who they do not believe had any connection to Jasmine, may have been in an altercation with riders in the SUV before the shooting.

    However, he was refusing to help investigators, and no further arrests had been made as of late Tuesday.

    Jasmine’s death was one of two homicides in the city Monday and among seven shootings overall – a level of violence that served as a grim backdrop to a Tuesday morning news conference, scheduled well in advance, at which Police Chief Nannette Hegerty announced plans for stepped-up patrols of violent neighborhoods, beginning Sunday.

    “Some gutless thug decided he would solve his problem by shooting a 4-year-old girl,” Mayor Tom Barrett said at the news conference. “What a tough guy. He can brag about that to all of his buddies, that he took out a 4-year-old girl.”

    July 28, 2014 at 10:00 pm