The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel makes a big spash about convicted felons hunting with firearms and how a computer cross-match between hunting licenses and probation and parole clients led to 19 arrests.
In northern Wisconsin where hunting is a way of life probation agents have known for years that convicted felons go deer hunting and, unless there was an incident, they generally looked the other way. Fortunately the incidents were few and far between.
The law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms without a pardon or special dispensation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
I never thought it made sense for probation agents to look the other way -- the you-know-what would hit the fan pretty quickly if there was an incident -- and the Journal-Sentinel deserves credit for blowing the whistle on an inept system that allows felons to buy hunting licenses with no background check.
And that's just the beginning, folks.
The "Brady bill" mandating background checks for gun purchasers -- at least those who visit authorized dealers as opposed to gun shows where they can buy an arsenal with no questions asked -- isn't worth much more than the paper it's written on.
That's because conviction data is so incomplete and inaccurate that it's easy for convicted felons -- even murderers -- to buy guns because the conviction didn't get into the computer.
I've worked with "rap sheets" for decades and can tell you first hand that there can be pages of arrests but no convictions because the courts in a particular jurisdiction never bothered to send in a disposition report. No disposition reported, no conviction on the "rap sheet" and, voila, here's your gun, sir.
Some states -- Michigan being one of them -- do a very good job of reporting conviction data. Wisconsin doesn't have much to brag about -- although it's getting better -- while Illinois criminal histories are notoriously incomplete.
Of course, the nitwitness newsies at the Journal-Sentinel and other media outlets are too inept to pick up on the real story. They only scratched the surface here. Real reporters would have uncovered the "Brady bill" scandal.