GOP Lawmakers Want Guns Allowed on State Campgrounds

March 31, 2016

Camp Fire

As camping season in Wisconsin quickly approaches, two Republican lawmakers have told the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to stop prohibiting guns on state campgrounds.

Currently, the DNR prohibits carrying and possessing firearms within 100 yards of state campgrounds. The DNR is considering revising the rule to include the term “campsites.”

Rep. Cody Horlacher, of Mukwonago, and Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake, who were both elected in 2014, said in a letter to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp that they believe both the current and proposed rule violated state law because they believe the law allows conceal-carry permit holders to have guns at public outdoor venues, like campgrounds and campsites.

“As a Legislature, we have left the State Capitol and even the Senate and Assembly Chambers open to carry by those with a permit,” the letter to Stepp said. “It stands to reason then, that law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry at campgrounds and campsites.”

The state’s conceal-carry law was approved by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2011.

The law was backed by pro-gun interests led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is the nation’s largest pro-gun advocacy group. In addition to its powerful federal and state lobbying influence, the NRA spent $3.6 million between 2008 and 2015 on independent expenditures to support Republican and conservative candidates for Wisconsin governor, attorney general, Supreme Court and the legislature.

Most of the group’s spending on outside electioneering activities – $3.5 million – was to support Walker, who is Stepp’s boss and has signed numerous pieces of NRA-backed legislation into law since he took office in 2011.

The NRA spent $526 to help Horlacher win election in 2014.

In addition to outside spending, on behalf of Wisconsin candidates, the NRA Political Victory Fund, which is the group’s state political action committee (PAC), made another $49,575 in direct contributions to candidates between 2008 and December 31, 2015. Neither Horlacher nor Jarchow received NRA PAC contributions during that time.