Wisconsin Gun Controllers: Alive and Kicking!

The author, a Wisconsin resident, using a firearm that would be banned under Wisconsin Senate Bill 350.


It was widely suggested that Donald Trump’s 2016 election signaled the end of most gun-control efforts. He had campaigned on a pro-Second Amendment platform and had gained support from the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups. Plus, it meant that the Executive branch and both Houses of Congress were now in the Republican fold. 

Gun control was dead—right?

Far from it. Especially at the state level, where anti-gun politicians and groups remain active. Case in point: Wisconsin, where three state senators introduced Senate Bill (SB) 350 this July. 

Though SB 350 has received little media attention, its gun control aims are far-reaching. As the Wisconsin State Senate website noted, “This bill bans the transportation, purchase, possession, or transfer of a semiautomatic assault weapon and specifically defines “assault weapon” for the purpose of the ban. Under the bill, whoever transports, purchases, possesses, or transfers a semiautomatic assault weapon is guilty of a felony and may be fined up to $10,000, sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to six years, or both.”

So what is considered an “assault weapon?” Following the script from the Clinton Era “Assault Weapons Ban,” it is a rifle, shotgun, or pistol with a detachable magazine and any of the following other characteristics:

–a pistol grip

–a folding, telescoping, or thumbhole stock

–a second handgrip or protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand

–a bayonet mount

–a flash suppressor, muzzle brake, or muzzle compensator or a threaded barrel capable of accepting a flash suppressor, muzzle brake, or muzzle compensator

An “assault weapon” under a new bill introduced in the Wisconsin State Senate.


This covers all AR-style rifles, most tactical shotguns, and any semi-automatic pistols with magazines holding more than seven rounds. All would be banned.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is a pro-Second Amendment Republican, and both State Houses are Republican controlled; as such, legislative gun control efforts have an uphill battle in The Badger State.

At the same time, Wisconsin’s Second Amendment opponents haven’t simply gone away. As the Associated Press reported in April of this year, Democrats in the Wisconsin State Assembly “announced the creation of a new gun safety advocacy coalition…saying they can’t believe Republicans want to further relax Wisconsin’s gun regulations. Reps. Terese Berceau, Melissa Sargent and Lisa Subeck, who all hail from Madison, held a news conference at the state Capitol to announce the formation of the Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety. The coalition includes the Wisconsin chapters of the National Physicians Alliance and the National Association of Social Workers, the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, or WAVE, among other groups.”

The coalition wants Wisconsin to reinstate a 48-hour waiting period for purchasing a handgun, opposes current state efforts to expand concealed carry, and wants background checks for all gun transactions—including sales between individuals. 

Gun control in Wisconsin may be an uphill climb at the moment. But what if a relative handful of Assembly or the Senate seats changed parties, as could happen in the upcoming 2018 elections? Gun control and the Second Amendment could be right back on the firing line here.

Brian McCombie, U.S. LawShield Contributor

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