The State Senate will vote on a bill Tuesday that would allow people to transport uncased, unloaded hunting weapons in their vehicles.
If the bill passes, it would be legal for hunters to possess their hunting rifles, shotguns, crossbows and bows in their vehicles without the proper casing for the weapon.
Currently, all weapons have to be unloaded and within their cases while in a vehicle. The bill would not change current laws that prohibit shooting a firearm, bolt or arrow from a vehicle.
“The perspective of this bill is the safety aspect,” Jeff Nass, president of the Wisconsin chapter of the National Rifle Association said. “It will make hunting safer and hopefully lower the number of hunting related accidents that occur.”
Currently, if a hunter goes back to his or her car for more supplies, it is illegal for the hunter to place his or her weapon on the car or lean it against the vehicle.
“The safest place to put your weapons is on the car,” Nass said. “Without having to replace the weapon in its case, the only legal spot to place the weapon would be down on the ground, which is the most unsafe place for it. So what it comes to is either getting a ticket or having an accident.”
Jeri Bonavia, executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, said her group opposed the bill at first because they thought the bill’s language was too general and it raised questions regarding public and hunter safety.
She added it would seem as if hunter convenience was placed at a higher regard than public safety if the bill was passed.
Bonavia added her group changed its position from being against the bill to neutral after several amendments were added that focus the bill more specifically on hunting.
The new amendments now stipulate that someone needs to have a legal permit to own the firearm, the transportation of the weapon must occur during open hunting season and the transporter must have the appropriate hunting license.
The amendments also define what times of day transportation is allowed and where in the vehicle the weapon must be placed.
“…After the amendments to the bill, it seems as if there is a good balance between public safety and convenience,” Bonavia said. “We recognize that this bill is mostly for the added convenience of hunters, but we do also note the recognition for public safety also.”
Nass added Wisconsin is overall very far behind in its relaxing of gun control laws.
He said, for example, other states define an unloaded weapon as one without a bullet in the chamber. In Wisconsin, no bullets can be located anywhere inside a gun for it to be considered unloaded.
Wisconsin is also one of two states, the other being Illinois, which prohibits carrying a concealed weapon.
“Law abiding citizens should not be penalized,” Nass said.