NRA Group Backs Bill to Loosen Switchblade Prohibitions

April 6, 2015

Switchblade knives would be legal to carry for more than 240,000 Wisconsin residents who are now licensed to carry concealed guns under legislative proposals backed by the state arm of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has spent more than $14,000 to help elect some of the bills’ sponsors.

The proposals – Assembly Bill 142 and Senate Bill 102 – would also allow former and present law enforcement officers to carry switchblades. The measures were authored by Republican Rep. Kathy Bernier and Sen. Terry Moulton, both of Chippewa Falls, whose party controls both houses of the legislature by comfortable margins. The bills drew support from the Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators, a state group chartered 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 $9,823 on behalf of eight of the bills’ sponsors. The bills’ sponsors who were top recipients of outside electioneering help from the NRA were Republican Sens. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, $6,231, and Moulton, $877. Bernier received $574, and GOP Rep. Cody Horlacher, of Mukwonago, received $526 in outside election support from the NRA.

The NRA’s PAC also made direct contributions totaling $24,325 between 2011 and 2014 to 40 Republican legislative candidates. Eight of the bills’ sponsors received $4,300 in NRA contributions, including Harsdorf, who received $1,000, and Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, of Crivitz, who received $300. Six of the other GOP sponsors who received $500 each were Sen. Van Wanggaard, of Racine, and Reps. Joel Kleefisch, of Oconomowoc, Scott Krug, of Nekoosa, Tom Larson, of Colfax, Keith Ripp, of Lodi, and Bernier.