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Why is the Wisconsin bill a big deal?
By Bill Mills
17 December 2001

Recently the Paintball Product Manufacturer's Association sent out a press release on a situation that has been come to their attention in the last week.

In the spring of 2001, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began work on this legislation, and it has appeared before committee on multiple occasions.  Researchers for the Paintball Product Manufacturer's Association have been unable to find any evidence that significant public notice of this move to ban paintball was ever given in widespread newspapers.  The sole references they were able to locate was in a state register, and 10 words in a 600 page article released the same day an early hearing was held.

The Department of Natural Resources approved, and the legislative Natural Resources Committee, have already approved the language with the ban in NR 45.04.  All votes have already been taken.  Unless another hearing is scheduled, there will be no other changes and the ban will go into effect.

[From the State of Wisconsin -- Proposed: NR 45.04(3)(q) Paint balls.  No person may use paint balls, paint ball guns or any other type of paint ball  equipment on department lands.] 

[Editor's note: The proposed regulation was referred to in this article as a bill based on initial interview e-mails with parties involved.  The proposed NR 45.04(3)(q) is not actual a bill to be come law, but rather a proposed regulatory amendment that would change the operational policies of the Department of Natural Resources, which operate under the authority of Wisconsin law.]

The bill must have a 24 hour notice to be reviewed in a hearing.  With the last hearing date this year being the 20th, the only hope to get this bill into a hearing and off track from becoming enforced under Wisconsin law is for a representative to call for a hearing on the 18th.  It would modify the regulations under which the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources operates.

This bill is in reference to publicly administered lands.  Recent estimates based on figures on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources web site put as much as 1.6 million acres will br affected.

While it may be tempting to brush this off with the idea that all it will do is stop renegade players from playing in state parks, that is simply not the case.  Natural resources lands are not just parks, they include water run of areas, lakes, dry lands, wet lands, forests and more. 

Both state and federally administered lands throughout the US are put to many uses besides parks and wildlife preserves.  These include logging, boating, skiing, motorcycling, hunting, and paintball. 

Often, organized use of the land such as with a paintball field, must be approved by the agency overseeing the land.  This ensures that the land is cared for properly, and that there will not be conflicts between potential users. 

Under Wisconsin's bill, if passed into law, public lands will still be available for hunting, fishing, off-road driving, skiing, snow boarding, and other outdoor activities activities.  Some of these activities will require appropriate permits.  The proposed law would make it illegal for the Department of Natural Resources to issue a permit for paintball games, or a paintball field on DNR administered land. 

This move was made without listening to the viewpoints of the paintball community in Wisconsin, despite the fact that with over 7 million players nation wide, paintball is a more widespread activity than many of the uses which would remain legal. 

See the PPMA's release for the latest information on this issue.

Calling, e-mailing, and faxing is the best way to be heard by the representatives of Wisconsin's House of Representatives, Natural Resources Committee.  Business hours on Tuesday are critical.

The Paintball Product Manufacturers Association is an organization with the mission of strengthening the paintball industry both by generating a positive image for the sport, and by working to fend off legal threats to the sport.  Its members include ACI Sports, Airgun Designs, Brass Eagle, Inc., Indian Creek Designs, JT USA, Kingman International Corp., Tippmann Pneumatics and Worr Game Products.

For contact information on how you can help fight for paintball, and the PPMA's press release on the subject, please CLICK HERE.

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