A Democratic-proposed gun ban would prohibit some of the most highly-rated hunting rifles and shotguns, ban most pistols, and require Wisconsin residents who owned so-called “semiautomatic assault weapons” to turn their guns in to the government. State Rep. Lisa Subeck and three other Democratic state lawmakers are proposing a sweeping ban on rifles, shotguns and pistols they deem dangerous because they are “designed to kill large numbers of people quickly.”
Legislative attorneys – known as Legislative Counsel – confirmed to state Rep. Dave Craig (R) that the loosely written ban does not contain a grandfather clause, meaning owners of prohibited weapons would need to turn them in or face felony charges for possessing an illegal weapon. “Continued possession of a firearm defined as an assault weapon would generally be illegal under the bill draft beginning the day after the date of publication of the enacted bill,” legislative attorney Larry A. Konopacki explained.
But Konopacki wasn’t the first to spot the troublesome lack of a grandfather clause. State Rep. Adam Jarchow (R), an attorney, also noticed that there was no exception for those who currently own a weapon that the legislation seeks to ban. Jarchow told Media Trackers on Thursday morning that, “on first reading there appears to be no grandfather clause.”
That’s a big problem for gun owners in Wisconsin because the way the draft legislation defines “semiautomatic assault rifle” (a term that’s somewhat redundant), dozens of different gun types would be banned. State Rep. Cody Horlacher (R), also an attorney, reviewed the proposal and told Media Trackers the definition of a banned rifle “is so broad, anything could fall into” it.
Research by state Rep. Dave Craig (R) found that the proposal would outlaw three of the top five rifles recommended by the hunting resource website Realtree.com for shooting hogs. That matters because the Wisconsin DNR has declared feral hogs to be “exotic, non-native wild animals that pose significant threats to both the environment and to agricultural operations.” The DNR has asked hunters to aggressively hunt the hogs to protect the environment.
“It is unfortunate that my Democratic colleagues, in their haste to trample Wisconsinites’ 2nd Amendment rights by making law abiding Wisconsinites felons simply for keeping their current firearms, also failed to realize the negative environmental and agricultural consequences of their dangerous proposal,” Craig said of the legislation.
When it comes to shotguns, the proposed ban would make it illegal for a Wisconsin hunter to own some of the most highly rated Turkey hunting shotguns. In fact, four of Game & Fish Magazine’s top ten shotguns for Turkey hunting would be specifically banned.
Most semiautomatic pistols also appear to be off-limits if the proposal ever becomes law – a nearly impossible prospect at this point with the legislature controlled by Republicans. A loosely worded prohibition on pistols with, “a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel, and that permits the user to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned” would make iconic handguns like the 1911, or popular pistols like the entire Glock product line, illegal. Perhaps the only semiautomatic pistol that would be legal would be the Luger, a German World War II relic.
“Even though a semiautomatic pistol slide is not designed for the purpose of being held by the nontrigger hand, particularly while the firearm is being fired, it could be argued that a slide still meets the criteria for inclusion under this provision,” Konopacki wrote in his letter to Rep. Craig. “Arguments could be made both ways here, and it is impossible to predict with certainty how a court construing this phrase would do so.”
Rep. Horlacher shared that assessment.
Because a majority of the semiautomatic pistols sold today could fall under the ban, Wisconsin pistol owners would likely be required to turn over tens of thousands of handguns to the state under this provision.
While the proposal is dead on arrival in this Republican legislature, it does reveal what some of the leading lawmakers in the Democratic caucus would do if their party had a legislative majority.