The Madison man who sold a gun that was used to kill a Chicago police officer was sentenced Thursday at the U.S. Federal Court in Madison.
Thomas Caldwell, 68, received 37 months in prison and 3 years probation. Caldwell already plead guilty to selling guns to people without licenses. One of those weapons, originally purchased at a gun shop in Cross Plains, got in the hands of a criminal who used it to shoot and kill Chicago Police Department Commander Paul Bauer in February.
During the one-hour sentencing phase, former Chicago Police Deputy John Escalante held back tears as he read an impact statement of behalf of Bauer’s family. He says Bauer was well liked in the force and had a strong sense of faith and family. Escalante believes those who put guns in the hands of those who commit violence crimes should be held responsible.
The prosecution argued Caldwell’s sentence should reflect the crime, saying Caldwell’s actions “amplified the danger of dangerous people” to indiscriminately sell firearms. He said even after several visits from ATF agents, as well as a search warrant conducted at Caldwell’s house, in which agents confiscated several guns, he continued selling without a license.
In Caldwell’s defense, his attorney argued that Caldwell “feels terrible” that guns he sold ended up hurting people. He highlighted the 68-year-old’s military service, long battle with mental illness, contribution to the community, and his physical condition as reasons Caldwell shouldn’t be “punished with prison.”
In the end, Judge James Peterson said people have to “respect and awesome power” and responsibility of guns.
The defense’s argument was not enough to persuade Peterson, who said Caldwell’s conduct was consistent and knowing. He said Caldwell couldn’t blind himself to the danger and needs a stern sentence. He went on to say people show use this case as a lesson to those selling guns that are used to commit crimes. But due to Caldwell’s physical condition, the sentence would be on the low-end of sentencing guideline.
Caldwell is ordered to surrender to authorities on Dec. 6.