NRA-Backed Weapons Bills Head to Walker

January 26, 2016

GOP bills backed by pro-gun interests that would legalize switchblades and put guns confiscated by law enforcement back in the hands of their owners faster are on the governor’s desk.

The measures, Assembly Bill 13 and Assembly Bill 142, were approved last week by the Senate and last year by the Assembly. Republican lawmakers control both houses of the legislature.

AB13 creates a system for gun owners to request a court to return their firearms within eight days of the request if any of the following conditions are met: prosecutors decided not to press charges; charges against the owner were dismissed; or no charges were filed within 10 months of the weapons being seized by law enforcement.

AB142 makes it legal to carry switchblade knives and other blades for an estimated 240,000 people now licensed by the state to carry concealed guns. Former and current law enforcement officers also would be able to legally carry switchblades and other blades.

Both measures collectively drew more than three dozen GOP sponsors, and were supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which generally backs Republican state and federal candidates at election time.

The NRA, which is the nation’s largest and most controversial pro-gun advocacy group, 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 Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has signed numerous pieces of NRA-backed legislation into law since he took office in 2011.

To learn more about the outside electioneering activities the NRA sponsored, and the candidates it supported and opposed between 2008 and 2015, please check out the Democracy Campaign’s NRA profiles – here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

In addition to its outside spending on behalf of Wisconsin candidates, the NRA Political Victory Fund, which is the group’s state political action committee (PAC), made another $49,325 in direct contributions to candidates between 2008 and June 30, 2015.

The top recipients of NRA PAC contributions between 2008 and June 30, 2015, who are in office were Walker, $12,500, and Republican Senators Alberta Darling, of River Hills, and Luther Olsen, of Ripon, $1,500 each.

The sponsors of AB13 and AB142 received a total of $8,575 in NRA PAC contributions between 2008 and June 30, 2015, led by $1,000 contributions to Senators Sheila Harsdorf, of River Falls, Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, Van Wanggaard, of Racine, and Rep. Joel Kleefisch, of Oconomowoc.