Attorney general candidate Susan Happ wants tighter gun background checks

Happ believes stricter background checks will reduce gun violence

Every year thousands of people in Wisconsin go through background checks to buy a gun, but at the same time countless people are able to get one without any paperwork.

One candidate for attorney general wants to change that. One day after attorney general candidate Brad Schimel was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, his opponent, Democrat Susan Happ, is calling for tighter gun laws to cut down on gun violence

Longtime retailer Ron Gehrke said the current system is working and he’s not sure more restrictive laws are the right answer.

“I live, and breathe hunting and fishing,” said Gehrke.

Gehrke has been in gun sales for almost 25 years.

“It’s what I like to do, it’s what I do,” said Gehrke.

Gehrke has been conducting background checks for as long as he can remember.

“We’ve always had the Brady bill,” said Gehrke.

Because Gehrke is a federally licensed firearm dealer, he is required by law to enter every application into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“You can’t be a felon, domestic abuse, any of that. We have pretty strict laws and if you check yes on any of them, the sale’s done,” said Gehrke.

But that’s not the case for everyone. Private gun sellers are not required to perform a background check on someone looking to buy a gun.

“If you bought a rifle or something and you want to give it to your husband or boyfriend as a Christmas gift, it’s completely legal,” said Gehrke.

Happ wants to change that law to include all gun sales, including private. In a recent statement she said, “This private sale loophole allows just about anyone to sell a gun with no background check, no identification and no questions asked.”

Happ said there have been nearly 90 gun homicides in Wisconsin this year alone and if we are serious about reducing violence, background checks are the solution.

Her opponent, Schimel, disagrees.

“Those who are not permitted to have guns under our law need to be prosecuted when they have guns. That’s what we need to do. Making it harder for law abiding gun owners to keep and bear their arms will not increase public safety,” said Schimel.

While both candidates voice their opinion, Gehrke said the system has worked for many years so there is no need to fix it now.

“The criminal aspect of it, we are never going to get away from that. It’s just always going to be there, but we can’t let that reflect on the people, you or I or law abiding citizens,” said Gehrke.

Even through private gun sellers are not required to do background checks on people, Gehrke said it’s always a good idea to keep a paper trail so that if something does happen, you have the paperwork to show that is responsible for that firearm.

Schimel and Happ are expected to meet two more times before the November election. Their next debate is set for Oct. 24.