While state law says residents have the right to openly carry firearms, Chief Ed Flynn said anyone caught carrying a gun in Milwaukee should expect to draw the full attention of police.
Flynn said his officers will not be assuming anyone with a gun has a right to it. They will assume -- for the sake of safety -- that the person is acting illegally until proven otherwise.
Despite Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's recent memo
, Flynn has promised his officers will act no differently when approaching someone with a gun.
"I'm not going to tell my officers assume that the weapon openly carried is being done so in compliance with the law. No. Assume you're dealing with someone who is a danger to yourself and the community, and they will have to prove otherwise," Flynn said.
Despite Flynn's directive to detain anyone with a gun, Van Hollen told 12 News that police don't appear to have the legal grounds to do so.
"I would also hope that they wouldn't question people just because they have a firearm. The law is quite clear that they're entitled to carry that. I certainly know our law enforcement officers have better things to do than categorically question people who they don't suspect of any wrongdoing," Van Hollen said.
Nonetheless, Flynn said he has an obligation to protect the community from people carrying weapons. Consequently, people planning to openly carry in Milwaukee should expect to be stopped by police.
"I'm talking about guys who theoretically don't have a criminal record but are members of organized gangs carrying an AK. Are you telling me I shouldn't confront and talk to that person?" Flynn said.
Flynn has the support of Mayor Tom Barrett, who said there should be exceptions for densely populated urban areas.
"There's a fundamental difference between carrying gun in Vilas County on your own land and carrying an AK-47 or Uzi to watch the Circus Parade in Milwaukee," Barrett said.