Gun Lobby Pushes No Age Limit for Hunters

October 30, 2017

Baby with Rifle

A bill that is slated to be voted on in the Wisconsin Assembly this week would let anyone go hunting, no matter how young. That bill, AB 455, is supported by the powerful gun lobby.

Current Wisconsin law says you need to be at least 12 years old to hunt, unless you’re in a hunting membership program, in which case you can be as young as 10.

This bill would do away with all age restrictions so that anyone under 10 can hunt if that person is with a mentor.

It would also do away with the limit on the number of weapons that the mentor and the minor may carry.

Current law says that they “may jointly have only one firearm, only one bow, or only one crossbow in their possession or control while hunting.”

That restriction would go out the window.

The bill is supported by the two most powerful gun groups in Wisconsin: the National Rifle Association and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association.

The NRA has spent about $3.6 million in Wisconsin since January 2008 on outside electioneering activities to support GOP and conservative legislative and statewide candidates, including about $23,400 on the legislative elections last fall. Nearly all of the NRA’s electioneering spending, about $3.5 million, was to support Walker’s 2010 general, 2012 recall and 2014 general elections for governor. In addition, the NRA contributed about $69,600 between January 2008 and December 2016 directly to all legislative and statewide candidates.

The Bear Hunters boast nearly 3,000 members and operates a conduit, which is a legal check bundling outfit that may funnel an unlimited amount of individual contributions to legislative and statewide candidates. Since the Bear Hunters’ conduit began operating in 2000, it has funneled nearly $369,000 in large individual contributions of $100 or more to legislative and statewide candidates through 2016. Most of the contributions – about $265,400 or 72 percent – went to Republican candidates. The top all-time recipients of large individual contributions through the Bear Hunters conduit are the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, which raises money to help elect Assembly Republicans, $14,845, and Walker, $12,750.

Other pro-hunting groups in favor of this bill include the Safari Club, Whitetails of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin FORCE (Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Rangers, Clubs, & Educators, Inc.).

Only the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation has registered against this bill.