Protecting the community and gun safety

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Police say the gunman in the shooting at a Milwaukee-area salon, 45-year-old Radcliffe Haughton, was issued a court order to turn in all the firearms he owned after a restraining order was issued against him.

But just days after the shooting, officials said Haughton never turned in any guns.

Investigator John Seigel of the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department said these types of court orders aren’t issued often here in La Crosse.

And while there’s no official time limit for turning in guns, he said he’s never had to wait longer than 24 hours.

“It doesn’t say, ‘within three days’ [or] ‘within six days,'” said Seigel. “It said it must be turned over to the sheriff and we attempt to do that as soon as we can. Most people come right to the Sheriff’s Department and make arrangements for us to come and get the firearms or have a third person turn them.”

What makes the case more complicated is that just a day before his rampage  Haughton bought the gun he used from a private citizen.

That means no background checks were required, and law enforcement would have had no record of him owning a gun.


“Between guns that are stolen, guns that are taken [and] guns that can’t be tracked, I think trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands is extremely difficult,” said Seigel. “I think it’s something that we’ll always work to do.”

Brian Smith owner of Smith’s Guns in La Crosse, is a license dealer and everyone he sells to has to pass a background check.

While he’s an advocate for private citizen sellers, he said adding more laws or more background checks wouldn’t necessarily keep guns from getting into the wrong hands.

“The criminal is always going to get a tool to do evil, no matter whether it’s a gun or a baseball bat, sword, anything,” said Smith. “They’ll do it with their bare fists if they have to. A criminal is going to commit a crime, and you can pass all the laws you want, and it’s never going to stem the tide of evil.”

A court order to turn in firearms typically happens in cases of domestic abuse, harassment, child abuse and occasionally, criminal cases.

Seigel said these types of court orders are only issued maybe four or five times a year.

Depending on the circumstances, people can petition the court to get their firearms back.

They, however, would have to go through a background check as part of the process.

Investigators who searched Haughton’s home afterward found no other weapons.