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Wisconsin State Senate Wrong: 10-Year Old Kids Should Not Be Hunting With Loaded Rifle

June 9, 2009

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.

  1. Russ Wildes permalink
    July 13, 2009 3:11 PM

    Im a hunter ed teacher and i think it is great that a 10 year old can have the chance to hunt in our great state i have seen 8 year olds handle a gun more responsible that a 16 year old as long as they have proper teaching and with the guide lines that will be in place 1 (10 year old) 1 adult and ONE gun between them and arms reach away at all times why take this away from our youth !!!! Russ Wildes Watertown Wis

  2. Duane R Jacobson permalink
    June 23, 2009 6:51 PM

    The main opposition to this bill are non hunters and animal rights. Neither have the interests of hunting in mind. My kids, boy and girl both, started hunting with me when they turned fiver years old. They learn about nature and the outdoors. They learn how to care for taken game and what needs to be done with it once at home. My nine year old daughter is excited about the opportunity to start hunting early. You have on RESPONSABLE adult who carries the weapon. When it is time to take the shot, the weapon is given to the child with the guidance of the adult. After the shot the weapon is taken away. I would trust my 10 year old daughter hunting with me more so than half the drunk adults that are in the woods.
    It all comes down to maturity and the decision by the parent to take the child hunting. We are not turning loose an army of unspervised children with guns.
    I shot my first squirrel with my grandfather when I was 9 years old. He brought one single shot .410 and gave it to me when it was time to shoot.

  3. Steve M. permalink
    June 19, 2009 1:41 PM

    I think you are off base. This bill seems like a logical way to introduce boys and girls to deer hunting. How this bill was created is one is something you can write your rep about. Your blog strikes me as one written by someone who has never hunted nor really understands why anyone would.

    For the record, I started as an adult in part because I know deer hunting is Wisconsin is some of the best in the world. So it seemed logical that one or two of our kids might like it. My hope is that it just might be one of the things that we do together for the rest of our lives. So far our time in the field during deer season has been great memories. I’d like the option to allow our next 10 year to harvest a deer if the shot is right.

    Maybe more of the metro WI pop should turn off the TV and computers games and join a portion of the WI population that loves a true Wisconsin experience that a lot of people from other states pay to experience.

    BTW – only five more months until opening day!


  4. Marion permalink
    June 10, 2009 11:19 AM

    I was taking the secretaries place in a school in our district when this story came to my desk.
    One of the kindergarten male students spoke up in protection of another female friend. He stated that if the offender didn’t leave his friend alone he would bring his Dad’s gun to school and shoot him. One would imagine this to be an idol threat but in this case we all knew it could happen. Dad had been for a long time teaching this 5 yr.old how to use and hold guns for hunting. [not to mention he was also being taught how to use a knife for defense and skinning a deer] The kid probably already owns a 22 rifle or 22 pistol or BB gun.

    Unfortunately there are many in my area who do teach their kids at this young age how to use guns. They take them to the local gravel pit and set up targets and allow the kids to fire guns. I do not agree with this part of the sport but it does happen.

  5. Levi permalink
    June 10, 2009 8:22 AM

    What would Ted Nugent say?

  6. June 10, 2009 7:54 AM

    I think you’re wrong about this law, for two reasons. First, as ReasonableCitizen pointed out, there are likely already parents taking 10-year-olds out hunting. This law doesn’t support it; it regulates it. Those fathers are now required to leave their own guns at home and closely supervise those 10-year-olds. As a result, I doubt there will be any accidents involving children under 12, because most parents will be unwilling to sacrifice their own hunting opportunities in order to take their young child along. Just like the law “allowing” blind hunters to go out with a sighted person to aim their gun for them was really about requiring a sighted person to take responsibility, not encouraging blind hunters.

    Second, this law is not really about recruiting more young children into the joys of hunting. As I mentioned above, few parents will take advantage, since it means sacrificing their own hunting opportunities. This law is really about gaining cred with the NRA crowd for the 2010 elections. Look at the bright side — while they’re passing this law, they’re not pushing for concealed carry.

  7. June 9, 2009 8:33 PM

    It seems to me that 12 years is young enough for hunting. However, I suspect that some fathers may do this sooner but I see no reason for a law to support it. Do we always need permission to do what we believe is right for us?

  8. Jake permalink
    June 9, 2009 7:19 PM

    I feel your anger and agree. My kid this weekend wanted to know if he could tie fishing line around his kid brother and drag him behind our boat. Enough said about kids and the way they think. 10yr old kids are not mature enough to hunt.

  9. Aaron permalink
    June 9, 2009 7:06 PM

    Might we now need a new version of Second Week of Deer Camp for the prepubescents?


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