EDITORIAL: Don't issue gun hunting licenses
In 2001, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the state had issued 224 gun hunting licenses to felons in Milwaukee in 2000, even though it was illegal for felons to carry firearms. Legislation was introduced that year by then-Rep. Scott W...
In 2001, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the state had issued 224 gun hunting licenses to felons in Milwaukee in 2000, even though it was illegal for felons to carry firearms. Legislation was introduced that year by then-Rep. Scott Walker and Rep. Sue Jeskewitz, R-Menomonee Falls, that would have made it illegal for felons to obtain such licenses. The bill had the backing of then-Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and other legislators (and this newspaper).
Six years later, a Journal Sentinel Watchdog Report by Ben Poston found that at least 77 felons bought deer licenses last year and that the number was likely higher because only one of every five Wisconsin hunters consented to release their names when applying for a license.
The felons were able to obtain those licenses -- even though it remains illegal for them to carry firearms -- because, six years ago, the legislation that would have made the purchase illegal went nowhere.
Given Poston's findings that the problem continues, that needs to change. This time around, Rep. Terry Musser, R-Black River Falls, said he plans to draft a bill making it illegal for felons to purchase firearm hunting licenses. We hope he has better luck than Jeskewitz and Walker did in 2001.
There is only one reason to buy a gun hunting license. That's to take a gun into the fields or woods to hunt. Since it's illegal for felons to carry firearms, why would Wisconsin encourage felons to break the law by allowing them to purchase gun hunting licenses, especially in the cases of felons convicted of violent crimes involving guns?
Musser's proposal is going to cost money. Vendors who sell hunting licenses would need the ability to do background checks on those making the purchases.
But our guess is the citizens of Wisconsin would be willing to pay a little extra to make sure felons with a history of violence aren't roaming the fields with loaded weapons during hunting season.
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel