While attorney general candidates Brad Schimel and Susan Happ may not disagree on whether law-abiding Wisconsin residents should be able to own guns, the two have clashed over gun legislation specifics as the Nov. 4 election approaches.
The National Rifle Association recently endorsed Republican candidate Schimel. Although Happ has come out in support of the second amendment in the past, she advocates for more background checks for those trying to purchase guns.
“We see Mr. Schimel as someone who is there to do the job as attorney general and act as a defender of the laws of the state of Wisconsin, whether he agrees with them or not,” Jeff Nass, legislative affairs liaison of Wisconsin FORCE, Wisconsin’s charter association of the NRA, said in reference to Schimel’s position on guns.
Nass said Schimel’s position is more favorable to the NRA because it is more in line with the second amendment and Schimel has made it clear he intends to support it to the fullest. Happ, however, has not said she does not support citizen’s right to bear arms and is also a concealed-carry permit holder herself.
Happ released a statement earlier this month saying she sees stricter background checks as an “obvious solution” to reduce gun violence and, as attorney general, she would work to push legislation in support of broader and more in-depth background checks.
The state does not currently require background checks for people buying arms at gun shows or online, which makes up of approximately 40 percent of all firearms purchased in the state.
In a recent interview with the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board, Happ said 80 percent of Wisconsin residents are in support of closing this loophole and that as attorney general she would work to make criminal background checks necessary in all cases.
Schimel, on the other hand, has said he thinks everything is working great, Nass said. Schimel said in a statement last week that he believes “the state has plenty gun laws,” and that as attorney general, he would instead push for more thorough prosecution of those violating the already existing laws.
Along with background checks, Schimel and Happ disagree on specifics regarding concealed-carry permits. Happ told the State Journal that she believes police officers should have easier access to names of people with concealed-carry permits, but Schimel countered that this was unnecessary because officers should already be aware of the fact that anyone they approach could be armed.
“Her statements on the rights of Wisconsinites definitely puts Mr. Schimel ahead of her,” Nass said. “He believes everything is working great.”
A recent statement from Schimel’s office said the fact that charges of felons in possession of guns are often dropped or ignored is a problem. The statement says Schimel would “push for more thorough prosecution of felons who violate those laws.”