Last Saturday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker quietly passed a new law that allows toddlers, even newborns, to hunt with a firearm.
Before, Wisconsin hunters had to be at least 14 and pass a hunter’s safety class to hunt alone. Additionally, children as young as 10 could participate in the state’s mentoring program with an adult. However, the new law eliminates the age restriction. It also eliminated the ban that prevented hunters carrying multiple guns while hunting with children.
Hunting licenses for children are now available since the new law took effect on Monday. The passing of the bill comes just nine days before deer season is expected to start.
This new law makes Wisconsin the 35th state to have no minimum hunting age.
In July, the bill was introduced and the signing of the bill came just two weeks after two mass shootings.
Several groups such as the Whitetails Unlimited and the National Rifle Association are in favor of the new law. However, there was opposition from Democrats and child safety advocates. Republicans pushed the bill anyway, arguing that parents should be the one to decide whether their child should hunt.
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The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. Rob Stafsholt, stated, “What this [bill] means is that parents would now decide if, and when their child is ready to participate in a mentored hunter program and not the government.”
Republican State Rep Joel Kleefish said something similar, “It’s not the government’s job to tell parents” when their kids are ready to hunt.”
According to Jeri Bonavia, executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, a group that tries to end gun violence, she opposes the bill.
She stated, “Giving a firearm to a child when they can’t understand the consequences is just incredibly foolish. I honestly don’t think there are a lot of Wisconsin moms and dads really pushing for this or desiring this, so I don’t know if it will be a very common practice. I certainly hope not.”
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