August 28, 2016

Instructor: Background checks OK but do not keep weapons from criminals

Curt LaHaise, a shooting instructor, former police offer, and an NRA member, is photographed at his shooting range in Deerfield, Wisconsin. LaHaise is the owner of "Guardian Safety & Security Solutions LLC", which provides personal self defense training. Here, LaHaise takes a target out to the range to demonstrate shooting his AR-15. Taken on July 30, 2016.

Alexandra Arriaga/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Curt LaHaise, a shooting instructor, former police offer, and an NRA member, is photographed at his shooting range in Deerfield, Wisconsin. LaHaise is the owner of "Guardian Safety & Security Solutions LLC", which provides personal self defense training. Here, LaHaise takes a target out to the range to demonstrate shooting his AR-15. Taken on July 30, 2016.

More on background checks from WCIJ

Strong public support, pleas from grieving family fail to move Wisconsin on gun background checks

Background checks, dealer licensing requirements in Wisconsin, explained

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Precious Lives is a two-year project investigating the problem of gun violence among young people, its causes and potential solutions in the Milwaukee area and statewide. Read the Center’s stories in the series here.

DEERFIELD — Curt La Haise runs a shooting range 20 miles east of Madison where he teaches self defense and National Rifle Association-sponsored firearm courses. La Haise also teaches survival techniques and is a “prepper” who believes in being personally prepared for disasters.

Most of La Haise’s guns come from licensed dealers, which unlike private sellers are required to conduct background checks on buyers. He said he has no problem with the 18 states that have comprehensive background check laws that cover all buyers and sellers. But La Haise is skeptical such a requirement would reduce crime.

Curt La Haise is a shooting instructor, former police officer and a National Rifle Association member, seen here at his shooting range in Deerfield, Wis. La Haise is the owner of Guardian Safety & Security Solutions, which provides self-defense training. He holds a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. Taken on July 30, 2016.

Alexandra Arriaga / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Curt La Haise is a shooting instructor, former police officer and a National Rifle Association member, seen here at his shooting range in Deerfield, Wis. La Haise is the owner of Guardian Safety & Security Solutions, which provides self-defense training. He holds a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. Taken on July 30, 2016.

“Criminals will always get what they want to get,” he said. “Laws are for people that follow laws. Why should we make people who already follow laws follow more laws?”

His main concern is making sure that purchasers do not have to “jump through a bunch of hoops” or pay extra fees. He believes firearm sales should be “even” for all sellers.

“I don’t think criminals are buying their guns at gun shows, or through private sales legitimately,” La Haise said. “They’re buying them from another gang member.”

Allison Anderman, staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, which tracks and analyzes firearm legislation, said because of the private sale loophole, prohibited purchasers can get weapons through legal means.

Anderman acknowledged that gang members and criminals still may be able to purchase firearms, even with universal background checks.

“But,” asked Anderman, “why should we be allowing people to easily and otherwise lawfully acquire firearms if they are prohibited from having them?”