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Much of the United States is undergoing a shift in gun violence, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from a decline in homicides to a surge in other crimes and mass shootings.
Across the country, the number of gun-related incidents has surged, but in many places, the crime is increasing at a greater rate. About 400 homicides, for example, have occurred in the Cook County suburbs of Chicago this year — more than double the numbers for the same period in 2012.
The current trend is particularly striking in these relatively conservative areas of Wisconsin, where gun purchases are typically limited, and gun sales are relatively low-key, said Chris Burnham, the Milwaukee Police Department’s chief of patrol. “We see those number trends rising,” he said. “We have populations in these neighborhoods that don’t necessarily have access to guns.”
Wisconsin has long been a destination for gun enthusiasts looking to escape the strictures of licensing and concealed carry laws in most of the country. But after two recent mass shootings in nearby Chicago, the Legislature there is revisiting its long-time opposition to gun control and under pressure from their constituents.
“You have a very gun-oriented area of the state where they’re historically not supportive of what we’re trying to do,” said Mary Shaw, the Milwaukee County executive. “If the perception of the state government and the city government is we are a hostile environment for people that want to own firearms, that might deter some people, people who already may want to own firearms.”