Nanny-stater of the week: Wisconsin towns fight repeal of bow ban

Part 13 of 13 in the series Nanny State of the Week

By Eric Boehm |

Robin Hood, Hawkeye and Katniss Everdeen would all be way less bad-ass if they lived in many towns throughout Wisconsin.

But the bow-welding heroes likely would give two thumbs up to the state’s new law that repeals local bans on using crossbows and other bow weapons. A number of towns across the state are now scrambling to rewrite their ordinances, but many local officials are still determined to stop people from using bows — for hunting or for sport — in as many places as possible.

TAKE A SHOT: New rules in Wisconsin make it legal to use bows and crossbows in public spaces, but city officials in several places are looking to re-impose bans.

To comply with state law, the city of Racine will have to allow bow hunting on private land, but officials are pushing for a new ordinance to ban the activity in city parks and other public land, according to the Racine Journal-Times.

The Journal-Times says the Racine ban on bow hunting has been on the books for decades. The new state law is aimed at reducing the deer population in urban and suburban areas of Wisconsin, where state officials say deer have become more than just a nuisance.

But in Racine, city leaders are questioning the logic behind the law.

“There is nothing more erratic and dangerous than a wounded deer,” city alderman Eddie Diehl told the Journal-Times. “You are trying to prevent car accidents and then you shoot something with a bow and arrow and it runs through a street?”

The state already allows the use of firearms within 100 yards of occupied buildings, and anyone using a bow to hunt in Racine, or elsewhere, would still have to possess a hunting license from the state, along with the mandatory safety classes.

The proposed ordinance would also require anyone discharging a bow to do so from an elevated platform — a practice that’s common for hunters but not so much for target shooting.

City officials say they have safety as their top goal — they are worried about what happens “when you miss,” said Mayor John Dickert.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, who wrote the new state law, said last year he also wanted to make bow and arrows more accessible to Wisconsin children so they could learn to use the weapons safely.

He says allowing bow hunting is a safer way to take out deer in an environment where other people are around. While bullets from a hunting rifle might travel several miles if they miss their target, an arrow fired from a bow won’t go more than a few hundred feet.

Kleefisch has also written legislation to end Wisconsin’s prohibition on carrying guns on school property, as long as an individual has a concealed carry permit.

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