3CD Map Dem Primary Heads
The candidates in the Democratic Party primary hoping to succeed retiring incumbent US Rep. Ron Kind are, clockwise from top left, Deb Baldus McGrath, Mark Neumann, Brad Pfaff, and Rebecca Cooke.

Kind was one of only 5 Democrats to oppose reinstituting a ban on new semi-automatic weapons. Pfaff cites “culture of hunting” in taking a position in the highly-competitive western Wisconsin district.

Retiring Democratic US Rep. Ron Kind made waves last week when he was one of only five members of his party to vote against a proposed return of the assault weapons ban as a way to address the plague of mass shootings. The candidate he has endorsed in next week’s four-way primary, state Sen. Brad Pfaff, gave indications during a radio interview with UpNorthNews that he would oppose a ban as well.

Pfaff, a former Kind staff member, was asked if he would vote similarly to his former boss. He said there are many ways to fight gun violence such as universal background checks, red flag laws, and fully funding mental health initiatives, but he said Wisconsin’s culture of hunting raises concerns about whether banning a type of firearm goes against the wishes of those who seek to “protect” the Second Amendment.

“I think we all recognize the fact that people here in Wisconsin enjoy the outdoors,” Pfaff said. “We’ve got a tremendous sporting heritage and it brings together families … as they enjoy the great deer hunt around Thanksgiving.” 

Pfaff was asked if any of that hunting is being done with semi-automatic weapons.

“I hear you on that,” he replied. “The thing is—the question becomes—when we begin to have a conversation, as far as we start talking about shotguns and rifles, we start talking about, you know, what is the definition? And that’s an important conversation to have. I mean, I have been very clear. There is no place for weapons of war on our streets.”

Pfaff is one of four candidates hoping to win the Democratic nomination in next week’s primary and face off with presumptive Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden in November. Two of other Democratic candidates, also interviewed on the UpNorthNews radio program, were solidly in favor of a ban.

Deb Baldus McGrath reflected on her weapons training as a US Army Ranger and noted she was an early critic of Kind’s vote against both the assault weapons ban and an earlier measure to create a type of community alert system for an active shooter situation.

Rebecca Cooke pointed to her recognition by the gun safety group Moms Demand Action.

“There is a heritage of hunting and gamesmanship in Wisconsin,” said Rebecca Cooke, “but I don’t think that AR-15s belong at deer camp. I think they belong on a battlefield.”

Candidate Mark Neumann (who will be interviewed Thursday on the radio program) has said he favors bringing back the ban as well as limits on high-capacity magazines.

Mass shooting deaths tripled in the decade after the original ban’s demise. 

The bill comes at a time of intensifying concerns about gun violence and shootings — the supermarket shooting in Buffalo, NY; massacre of school children in Uvalde, Texas; and the July Fourth shootings of revelers in Highland Park, Ill.

Last week, Kind was joined by Republican US Reps. Glenn Grothman, Bryan Steil, Mike Gallagher, Tom Tiffany, and Scott Fitzgerald in voting against bringing back a 1994 ban that Republicans allowed to expire in 2004. The bill is unlikely to pass in the US Senate—a political consideration moderate candidates like Pfaff are mindful of in highly competitive districts like the 3rd which includes much of western Wisconsin and part of central Wisconsin.