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A rare look at Milwaukee's secret gun vault

Charles Benson

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A rare look at Milwaukee's secret gun vault

CREATED Nov. 25, 2013 - UPDATED: Nov. 25, 2013

MILWAUKEE - A rare, unprecedented look at where Milwaukee Police keep some of the city's most dangerous seized weapons.

Police Chief Ed Flynn took Charles Benson inside the secret vault. 
Benson: When you look around this room and you see all these guns do you feel like sometimes you are winning the war or losing the war?
Flynn: "Well I think the war analogy is an apt one."
There are enough guns in here to arm a militia. Roughly 11,000 guns - most were used to commit a crime - including murder.
"Every handgun in these bins and every long gun in those bins has a body attached to it,' said Flynn. "There's a story and it's a sad one."
That story included a violent summer with 20 murders in August the most in eight years. 
"This summer between Memorial Day and and Labor Day we seized over 600 firearms and over 500 of those which is 80% - are being held as evidence.
Chief Flynn walked me through the small guns and big guns stacked in boxes and bins on rows of shelves inside a concrete room slightly smaller than a basketball court.
Felons can't posses or carry a gun. But Flynn worries some guns are used by repeat criminals who don't have felony convictions but legally qualify for concealed carry licenses, even though they have multiple misdemeanor convictions.
"We're looking at guns here that were in possession of people dealing drugs actively," said Flynn.
State records from the Wisconsin Department of Justice show nearly 110,000 concealed carry licenses were issued in 2012.
More than 1100 were denied. The number one reason was misdemeanor domestic abuse convictions. Drug use was number four.
TODAY'S TMJ4 asked the Justice Department: How many misdemeanor drug offenses would prohibit someone from getting a license? DOJ said,"it depends on the offense and the circumstance of those offenses as well as the sentence." 
Flynn says this not a gun control issue.
"We need to clean up the permit law so that the law abiding can continue to carry weapons lawfully."
Chief Flynn also wants a mandatory minimum three years in jail for what he calls the street thugs and drug dealers who are caught carrying a gun without a permit. Right now it's only a misdemeanor. 
Click through the gallery above to see more photos of the gun vault