It is amazing how far gun rights and carry rights have advanced in the Badger State since I first started blogging in 2010. Back then, Wisconsin residents had limited open carry rights due to an advisory ruling by then-Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen in 2009. They were one of two states that did not allow any form of concealed carry.
That began to change in late 2010 thanks to a ruling by a county circuit judge who ruled that the ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional. That, however, only applied in a limited area of Wisconsin. It was not until July 2011 when Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signed SB 93 that concealed carry became a reality in the state. Moreover, the bill that Gov. Walker signed provided for shall-issue concealed carry.
Fast forward a few years and now the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee passed out a bill that would allow constitutional or permitless concealed carry in the state.
The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee signed off on the bill 3-2, with all Republicans for it and all Democrats against it. The wide-ranging legislation would also allow people to carry Tasers without training or permits and would allow felons to carry muzzle loaders.
Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), the chairman of the committee, said Senate Bill 169 would make the public safer and ensure Wisconsin’s policies are the same for carrying weapons openly and concealed. Wisconsin has long allowed people to openly carry guns without training or permits.
“Quite honestly, I think I would rather have an individual that can lawfully possess a firearm and is carrying it, (and) I’d rather have them carrying it concealed because I think it creates a lot less tension when you’re in a group of people,” Wanggaard said.
“If they’re there for a lawful purpose and they’re carrying it for personal protection, they’re not going to be the problem. The one that’s going to be the problem is the dirtball that has one that’s illegal and they’re going to use it to conduct crime.”
According to the article, the Democrats on the committee oppose it because they believe there still should be some level of government regulation. While Sen. Wanggaard, the committee chair, believes it will pass both the Senate and the Assembly, there is some question as to whether Gov. Walker will actually sign the bill.
Walker was asked about the constitutional carry legislation back in June and he had this to say at the time as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.
“I think the law we have right now is a good law. I’m comfortable with that,” Walker told reporters when asked about the bill. “The people that talk to me about it say they like where it’s at. Obviously we’re one of the last states to have concealed carry and people said the world was going to come to an end who were the critics. It hasn’t. We’re one of the larger number of permits in the country and it works well that way. … What I’ve heard from folks is they are happy with the law as it is.”
Even if the legislation passes, the existing permit system would remain in place for those residents who wanted a permit so that they could carry in other states that recognized the Wisconsin permit.
Kudos to all those in Wisconsin who have fought in the trenches for gun rights in the state for so long. Their efforts have brought the state from virtually no carry to the cusp of constitutional carry. To quote Arthur MacArthur, that native son of Wisconsin who won the Medal of Honor for his exploits at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, “On, Wisconsin!”