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.
“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?”
Dee J. Hall and Coburn Dukehart of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Bridgit Bowden contributed to this report. It was produced in collaboration with Precious Lives, a two-year project investigating the problem of gun violence among young people, its causes and potential solutions in the Milwaukee area and statewide. Other partners in the project are 371 Productions, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Public Radio 89.7 WUWM and The Voice 860 AM WNOV. Coverage by the Center(www.WisconsinWatch.org) of gun violence prevention issues is supported by The Joyce Foundation. The nonprofit Center collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.