I know something about stuffing strange gun bills through the Wisconsin Legislature. After all, I was the legislative aide to former State Representative Lary Swoboda at the time he authored the blind hunting bill in the state. If you have never spent any time with a quick-minded reporter from one of the Chicago papers, let me tell you blind hunting should not be your introductory topic on which to spar. My ethical qualms tore me between doing the job I was hired to do, and my sincere opposition to the measure on policy grounds. In the end I was able to do both by talking off the record with the reporters.
These many years later I see how legislators get trapped into authoring such measures as a sign they are ‘in touch’ with their districts. To be more blunt, it is a sign the elected officials are in touch with the special interests who fund the campaigns.
The latest such sop handed to the gun lobby and sporting interests was the passage in the State Senate of a bill allowing 10-year-old kids to hunt. I know there are some kids at that age that want to hunt, some at 13 want to drive, and by 14 want to have sex. But with all things there is a time and a season. When most 10-year-olds are still not responsible enough to take the garbage to the curb each week one has to wonder what was in the head of the sponsor of this measure, Democrat Jim Holperin. When did the 10-year-olds of the state become so politically savvy that they were able to write their elected officials and get a bill passed? Or were the special interests just working for the bill?
The fact is that some of the hunting interests in the state see a slip in the number of young people that feel exhilaration over the notion of toting a weapon into the woods and killing animals. Let me be clear about this. There was no huge expression of need from the 10-year-olds on this matter. It was all about the special interests. If as stated by Senator Holperin, the bill’s sponsor, that he is eager to help young people find ways to spend their free time surely he could have found some other avenue to explore than one that allows access to a deadly weapon.
What pray tell is in the water above Highway 29?
This is a law that will result in tragedy. When it happens I hope those in the State Senate who passed it take the time to issue a meaningless press release, fully understanding that when they had the chance to stop the bill they opted for special interest concerns over safety. Because that is exactly what they did. Worse yet, we paid them to do it.