Ron Johnson campaign slams Barnes’ record on guns, ammo as ‘more like California than Wisconsin’

Gun Rights

Sen. Ron Johnson’s re-election campaign is slamming his Democratic opponent, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, for his record on guns and ammunition as being more in line with California than the Badger State.

Barnes served two terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly before he was chosen as the running mate to now-Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. In 2013, during his time as a state legislator, Barnes joined two other Wisconsin Democrats in drafting legislation to ban hollow-point bullets and so-called “assault” rifles, as well as require concealed carry permit applicants to undergo a psychiatric exam.

The bill would have effectively banned deer hunting in Wisconsin, as deer hunting without the use of “non-expanding bullets” is outlawed in the state.

Barnes and the others later amended the bill after a public outcry from hunters and gun owners, saying it was never intended to conflict with Wisconsin’s hunting laws. The bill never progressed in the Republican-led state legislature.

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Sen. Ron Johnson, left, and Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes.

Sen. Ron Johnson, left, and Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes.
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

“I really could not care less about a 2nd Amendment ‘right,’” Barnes tweeted at the time in July 2013. “Bear arms all you wish, but you should pay for your mishandling.”

Johnson campaign press secretary Mike Marinella told Fox News Digital that Barnes’ gun control policies “look more like California than Wisconsin.”

“Wisconsin hunters have struggled in the past few years with an ammo shortage, but Mandela Barnes wants to make that struggle permanent,” Marinella said. “His gun control policies look more like California than Wisconsin, and his ammo ban would effectively mean an end to deer hunting in our state. The only thing Barnes cares about is fundamentally transforming Wisconsin and forcing us to comply with his left-wing vision of the world.”

Democratic candidate for U.S. senate in Wisconsin Mandela Barnes speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Aris Sports Bar on October 12, 2022, in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Democratic candidate for U.S. senate in Wisconsin Mandela Barnes speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Aris Sports Bar on October 12, 2022, in West Allis, Wisconsin.
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Barnes frequently mentions losing a childhood friend to gun violence and has repeatedly called for “common sense gun reform.”

Barnes’ campaign spokesperson, Maddy McDaniel, told Fox News Digital that gun owners support the Democrat’s push for gun control.

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“Wisconsin has a long tradition of hunting and responsible gun ownership, and the overwhelming majority of gun owners agree with Lt. Governor Barnes on the need for common sense reforms, like ensuring that people with a dangerous history or domestic abusers should get a background check,” McDaniel said. “Yet while more than a dozen of Senator Johnson’s Republican colleagues worked across the aisle to pass legislation addressing gun violence, Senator Johnson puts the gun lobby before protecting lives.” 

Federal and Wisconsin state laws already require licensed gun dealers to run background checks on all purchasers, but the laws do not apply to private sellers.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., left, and his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes shake hands before a televised debate, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Milwaukee. 

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., left, and his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes shake hands before a televised debate, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Milwaukee. 
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Barnes campaign has previously said he supports a ban on so-called “assault” weapons, ghost guns and “high-capacity” magazines, as well as universal background checks and “red flag” laws, which allow police to seize a person’s firearms if a court rules that he or she poses a threat.

Barnes’ campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for clarity on the Democrat’s positions specifically on hollow-point bullets and requiring psych exams for concealed carry permits.

Giffords, a pro-gun control group co-founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords, endorsed Barnes’ campaign in August, calling him “a determined leader in the movement to save lives.” Barnes, at the time, promised to “never back down from the gun lobby.”

Hunter Nation, one of Wisconsin’s largest hunting groups, slammed the Evers-Barnes administration earlier this year, saying, “Gov. Evers has sent a clear message that he simply doesn’t care about Wisconsin’s outdoor traditions and would rather partner with anti-hunting groups to trample our long-held traditions.”

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“This governor is no friend to the hunters, anglers, and trappers of Wisconsin who contribute billions to our state economy every year. Hunter Nation will be there to remind this critical voting bloc of this fact come November,” the organization’s CEO, Luke Hilgemann, said in April.

The National Rifle Association has given the Barnes campaign an “F,” which means it considers the Democrat to be a “true enemy of gun owners’ rights.”

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