Ted Nugent promotes GOP bills to eliminate concealed carry permits, hunt sandhill cranes
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Republican lawmakers invited musician and avid hunter Ted Nugent to promote a package of bills that would create a new hunting season and allow adults to carry a gun without a permit.
Nugent, whose travels across the country as a spokesman for Hunter Nation, joined a group of Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol Wednesday, Oct. 13 to advocate for Republican bills called the "Wisconsin Sporting Freedom Act."
Republicans and Nugent touted the proposals as "essential" to the hunting industry and will encourage more people to participate.
"Hunting is essential and any regulation that doesn’t deal with safety or science-based wildlife management is an obstacle to participation,” Nugent said.
One proposal would create a hunting season for sandhill cranes, a protected species that some farmers blame for damaging their crops, specifically corn.
"You will only know if there's an overpopulation of sandhill cranes once you leave the office, [then] you will see the cranes are in every field gobbling up the farmers' profits," said Nugent.
The International Crane Foundation, which is based in Wisconsin, said in a statement, there's "no evidence that creating a hunting season will address a crop depredation in a meaningful way."
The bill would also require the Department of Natural Resources to implement a sandhill crane hunter education program and could limit the number of hunter permits issued.
Nugent, a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, also touted a GOP bill that would allow adults to carry a gun without a concealed carry permit.
State Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison), who's advocated for legislation to curb gun violence for years, called the measures dangerous and unrelated to hunting.
"This bill that would remove training, permits for concealed carry, is not going to do anything to expand our hunting heritage," said Agard. "My fear is, and the lessons we've learned from other states, is that we will see more crime, more gun violence."
Republicans have tried for years to get rid of concealed carry permits. State Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) said the bill is designed to "empower people that are lawful gun owners to exercise their rights."
The proposal would allow businesses to ban guns if they don't want people to openly carry one.
Governor Tony Evers, who has made several attempts to restrict access to guns, is almost certain to veto this bill if it reaches his desk.
Democrats Criticize Nugent's Visit
Nugent's trip to Wisconsin rubbed some Democrats the wrong way because of the 72-year-old's history of being charged with multiple hunting violations, controversies over his encounters with teenage girls and opinions on COVID-19.
State Sen. Jeff Smith (D- Brunswick) said his visit was purely political since the proposals are likely to be bound for Evers' veto pen.
"Ted Nugent is not considered your best spokesman considering his past and record for ignoring the law and overall threat to people," said Smith. "[Republicans] are just trying to keep one group of their supporters fired up and enraged when they know the governor is going to veto these."
Nugent recently has portrayed false information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Before testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this year, he said the virus was "not a real pandemic" and called it a "scam."
The musician also has violated several hunting laws, including a time he pled guilty in 2012 for transporting and unlawfully killing a black bear in Alaska.
“Instead of taking their cues from out-of-state, far right ‘celebrities’ like Ted Nugent, Republicans should get their ideas from the real experts – the hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress," said Sen. Bob Wirch (D- Somers).