The Money Behind Making it Easier to Get a Gun

February 19, 2015

The nation’s leading pro-gun lobby is backing legislative proposals in the Wisconsin legislature that would eliminate the 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases and require judges to more quickly return guns seized by law enforcement to their owners in some cases.

Each of the measures – Senate Bill 35 and Assembly Bill 13 – were introduced and sponsored by more than two dozen GOP legislators in the Senate and the Assembly. Republican lawmakers control both houses of the legislature.

Senate Bill 35 would allow a gun dealer to provide a buyer with a purchased firearm immediately after the dealer is notified by the state Department of Justice that the individual has passed a background check, rather than wait 48 hours after receiving the state’s OK to give the customer the gun. The measure is backed by Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs & Educators, a state group chartered by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Senate Bill 13 makes it easier for gun owners to get their guns back that were seized by law enforcement. If six months have passed since the gun was seized, and if the gun owner has not been charged with a crime, and if the district attorney says he won’t charge the owner, and if the trial judge has disposed of all charges in connection with the seizure of the gun, and if the gun owner “establishes that he had no prior knowledge of or gave no consent to the commission of the activity that led to the seizure,” then the owner can request the court to return the gun and the court must return it within eight business days. This bill is also backed by the NRA.

The NRA operates a political action committee and a corporation, which spent about $58,000 on outside electioneering activities between 2011 and 2014 to help Republican legislative candidates, including $5,023 on behalf of nine of the bills’ sponsors. The bills’ sponsors who were top recipients of outside electioneering help from the NRA were Republican Sens. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls, $877; Devin LeMahieu of Oostburg, $666; and Frank Lasee of De Pere, $644.

The NRA’s PAC also made direct contributions totaling $19,325 between 2011 and Oct. 20, 2014, to 31 Republican legislative candidates, including $3,175 to eight of the bills’ sponsors. Four of the bills’ sponsors who received top contributions of $500 each from the NRA were Le Mahieu, Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, and Reps. Scott Krug of Nekoosa and John Macco of De Pere.

In addition to legislative candidates, Republican Governor Scott Walker received nearly $2.9 million in outside electioneering support and campaign contributions from pro-gun interests to help him win the 2012 recall and 2014 general elections. Nearly all of that cash was spent by the NRA on outside electioneering activities to support Walker, who has been receptive to pro-gun legislation like the controversial concealed carry law he signed in 2011.