MADISON – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul could revoke a small number of concealed weapons licenses because of a recent state Supreme Court decision regarding those who have had their criminal records expunged.
The Department of Justice that Kaul oversees has been issuing concealed weapons licenses for years to people who have had their records expunged of felony and misdemeanor convictions.
But the Supreme Court in an unrelated case in December ruled that expunging a record “does not invalidate the conviction.” In light of that, Kaul has determined he cannot issue weapons licenses to those who have expunged records.
He alerted lawmakers to the issue in March and sent a follow-up letter Friday asking them to take up legislation to address it. If they do not, he wrote that he would have to review individual licenses to determine which ones should be revoked.
“Without legislative action, concealed carry licenses must be revoked from individuals with an expunged felony conviction,” he wrote in Friday’s letter.
As the law goes, I think that Kaul is right. By the letter of the law, those licenses would need to be revoked. But then, what does “expunge” really mean? Is the conviction gone or not? Then again, why do we even have a process of expungement? The crime happened… you can’t erase reality, in which case, do we ever want people who commit felonies from getting a concealed carry license? Or should this right be treated like other rights? In Wisconsin, felons can vote after they complete their punishment. Should their right to carry concealed be restored? Tricky questions.
Perhaps we should get rid of expungement and go to Constitutional Carry and let reality prevail.