Any person living or traveling in Wisconsin could carry a concealed weapon without a license under a bill Republican lawmakers on Wednesday urged a legislative committee to advance.
The bill, authored by Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, and Sen. David Craig, R-Big Bend, also would eliminate current state-mandated training to carry hidden weapons and allow Wisconsin residents with a license to carry a concealed weapon to bring firearms into schools unless school officials post signs prohibiting them.
The bill repeals the state’s gun-free school zone law and reduces the penalties for violating school rules banning guns from a felony offense to a misdemeanor or fine.
Craig and Felzkowski told the committee before a packed hearing expected to last hours that the legislation strengthens Wisconsin residents’ constitutional right to keep firearms especially for self-defense. Felzkowski emphasized an important aspect of the bill would allow law-abiding citizens who can carry weapons openly to now “throw a sweater on.”
“Right now I can go to Gander Mountain and buy (a handgun) and strap it to my hip — what I cannot legally do is throw a sweater on,” Felzkowski said. “That’s what we change.”
First, this is a pure civil rights issue. Keeping and bearing arms is one of the civil rights actually guaranteed by both our state and federal constitutions. There is no rational argument to continue allowing government to curtail that right in this manner.
Second, this is a practical matter to clean up the state law where it conflicts with federal law – and with other state laws, for that matter.
I’m sure this hearing will go on for far too long and the same old tired arguments that were trotted out against concealed carry will be flogged again. All of those arguments have been discredited by reality. And there are already 14 other states that already have a form of Constitutional Carry. Wisconsin is hardly being a pioneer in this regard. Let’s get this done.
I am in favor of the Bill but I have long been on the fence concerning Constitutional Carry. Not because I opposed our Second Amendment but because of the shortcomings of the market place to deal with carrying a firearm or other form of self-defense.
I would like to see the Bill include language for the State of Wisconsin to promote firearms training, expand use of law enforcement’s private ranges (due to the scarcity of public facilities), allow use of public facilities for firearms training and define limits for local municipalities to block construction of gun ranges in the interest of expanding public facilities. I have been fortunate to have had instruction in this area but I still would gladly signup for more classes if it were available.