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. Credit: Alexandra Arriaga / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
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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. Credit: Alexandra Arriaga / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

“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?”

Alexandra Arriaga

Alexandra Arriaga covers news and politics as a digital content producer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Before landing back home in Chicago, she interned at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism covering gun policy and solitary confinement in Wisconsin prisons, and has also reported for The Chronicle of Higher Education and Texas Tribune. She graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in journalism and Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian studies. She speaks fluent Spanish and English. She can be reached at