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In 1999, Wisconsin passed a statue which prohibited political subdivisions of the state from regulating firearms. The statute was expanded in 2011 with the passage of the shall issue permit law, and again in 2015 when knives were included as protected items.

The City of Madison political structure has been ideologically opposed to the right to keep and bear arms for decades. It has paid out in lost lawsuits when it attempted to criminalize open carry by claiming that open carriers were “obstructing justice” and charged them with disorderly conduct.

After Wisconsin passed the shall issue reform law, the City of Madison’s Transit and Parking Commission created a rule banning weapons on the city buses. They were then sued by Wisconsin Carry, a Second Amendment activist group. The city’s argument is that the city didn’t pass an ordinance or a regulation, or even a resolution to create the Transit Commission. Rather, the city merely created the Commission, which then created a rule. They contend that the city therefore isn’t responsible for what the Transit Commission does.

The District Court and the Appeals Court have ruled against Wisconsin Carry. Wisconsin Carry appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on Friday.


Wisconsin Carry’s attorney, John Monroe, argued Friday that a state law preventing a city from regulating firearms should restrict the city from granting that authority to a commission, such as the transit commission in Madison.
While a city can grant power to a subdivision, he argued that “such power is limited to the power that the city has in the first place,” and the state has not given the city power to pass weapons bans on buses.
Ryan J. Walsh from the Office of the Solicitor General argued on behalf of the state, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the gun rights group’s position.
Walsh pointed out that the statute at issue was not intended to keep guns off municipal property.
“The legislature has not given cities a free pass to ban firearms on their property,” he said.
But Madison assistant city attorney John Walter Strange Jr. claimed the challenged statute only restricts municipalities from enacting laws that are more strict than the state law.
The gun rights group’s argument fails before it reaches that point, Strange added: the state forbids a city from passing regulations. In this case, the city’s regulation stops at creating the transit commission. It is the commission that enacted the weapons ban.

It appears that the city’s argument fails a definitional test. Abraham Lincoln said in a famous quote:

How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

In this case, the Transit Commission is an entity created by the City of Madison.  If their argument is correct, and the city wishes to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms, (which they have abundantly demonstrated) they need only create a “weapons commission” that then passes “rules” about where weapons can be carried and how.  As the “rules” were not passed by the City, they would not be affected by the State preemption law.

Wisconsin had a clear choice in April, 2016, when voters elected Rebecca Bradley to the Supreme Court. The turnout was the highest ever for a Supreme Court race. Bradley had been appointed to the court seven months earlier by Governor Scott Walker. Bradley is a clear originalist and conservative; her opponent was unabashedly “progressive” and activist.

The Court moved further away from judicial activism when the former Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson, lost a lawsuit attempting to regain her position as Chief Justice.  Court members had voted for a justice to replace her, after a Constitutional amendment was passed to change the method of selection.  Chief Justice Abrahamson had been a powerful “progressive” voice on the court.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court now has a solid originalist majority.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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  1. Good luck Wisconsin. Progressives are a cancer on liberty. Cut out the cancer before it spreads. Otherwise look at California for how far it can go (and they still aren’t done there).

  2. I’ve lived in Soviet Wisconsistan for the past 20 years.
    This could be a Red State, after all WI is the birthplace of the Republican Party. However, Chicago and Madison’s strangle-hold on state politics has been crippling for decades. Thankfully, that’s been slowly starting to change.
    We recently passed Voter ID laws, so it’ll be interesting to see if WI goes red for the first time in Pres. elections; since WI went full retard in 88 with Dukakis, and have gone blue every time since.

    We’re still a tax cartel of a state economy though, with Wal-Mart being the top per-capita employer followed by Milwaukee Public Schools and University of WI system schools and the Post Office being in the top five…

    • Its never the states that are liberal, its the dang Urban Centers.

      Urban centers are now, always have been, and always will be liberal. Its simply a matter of math.

      A politician discovers he/she can be elected by giving away free stuff. If that person tries that in a rural area, they will be over rule by the urban centers dont want to pay for the free stuff. But if tried in an urban center, the rural area does not have the ability to vote the parasite out.

      So the Urban centers leech all the money out of government and created croony political situations to maintain themselves.

      California is not a liberal state, not even a little bit, but it has 7 major urban centers (Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, East bay, Santa Barbara, LA metroplex, and San Diego.)

      Nothing will break up that stranglehold except when the house of cards that makes up the financial base of the urban centers collapses.

      Than rationality will return.

      • This is very true. Even New York is a red state outside the cities. I wonder what would happen if all the massive cities essentially became their own states, separating the parasite from the host…

        • They’d be unable to survive. Literally. Without vast swaths of middle class tax-payers to strong arm. Look at states like New York or California. Their state budget is larger than a lot of countries’ GDPs. But every year they’re in the red, deficit after deficit.

      • The same thing could be said of almost every state. Even here in Texas, the large cities have trended liberal with the large influx of immigrant and growing minority populations. Dallas County, once conservative, is now controlled by Democrats, including a Sheriff who’s Hispanic and openly lesbian. And, Austin has been a liberal bastion for the past 25 years thanks in large part to the liberal politics of UT Austin. In contrast the state’s rural areas and most (but not all) suburbs are still conservative.

      • … and the Democratic Party was, and still is, the party of slavery. The difference is that today they want to put everyone in economic chains in order that the leaders (like Clinton) can retain their power and increase their wealth.

    • Also, Madison has been referred to as ’44 square miles surrounded by reality’. It may be more than that, but you get the idea. It’s the home of libtard strongholds like the University of Wisconsin and the Freedom from Religion foundation.
      Even the mayor, Comrade Paul Soglin-ski has noted the ’44 square miles…’ in news conferences. Oddly, Comrade Paul has made a few of his leftist buds pissed off lately with some of the ordinances he’s been pushing. Nice to see the libs eating themselves.

      Regarding Madison Metro: While I’m sure there are supporters of public transit in the POTG, they’d find Metro another animal altogether. Poorly planned, city supported and generally dumb. The city’s ‘transfer stations’, ie centralized hubs located in several parts of the city, are in general havens for drugs, thugs, assaults, rapes and just about anything else bad about metropolitan areas. The highest paid city employee a few years back was a metro driver, amassing a salary based on hundreds of hours of overtime.

      I’d be willing to bet that a notable percentage of riders on Metro already carry. Of those that do, I’d feel confident in asserting most of those that carry aren’t legal CCW holders and could care less about a ban.

  3. Based on the logic of the city the commission could issue a rule banning people of certain ethnicities and the city could respond that it can not be held legally responsible for the actions of the commission.

    • Based on Madison “logic” the Congress created the BATFE which could now totally (even more so) ignore the Second Amendment.

  4. The offered legal opinion reminds me of hearing Obama opine that all rights have limitation – none are absolute. Which begs the question – under what conditions may I own a slave?

    As atrocious as that line of thought is, these progressives have pursued “the buck stops there” philosophy of BHO further. Why couldn’t they allow the commission to prohibit certain political speech? Surely that step will not be far behind.

    Just common sense.

    For the children.

  5. For those not familiar with Wisconsin politics, there’s the state government, seated in Madison, but chosen by and representing the entire state, and Madison city/Dane county government (plus their Federal judges), chosen by and representing that locale alone. The former has been for some years solidly Republican and genuinely conservative. The latter is deep-end moonbat-crazy ultra-left. They do not care about rule of law, consent of the governed, etc, only getting their way or obstructing others from getting theirs.

    The problem is that since the state government is seated in Madison their judges get to negate, at least temporarily, everything the state government does that they don’t like, and they’re not shy about doing so. If they also have, as until a few years back, a majority on the bitterly divided state SC, they can completely overrule anything the elected representatives of the rest of the state, no matter how big their majority, end of story.

    Fortunately the SC has flipped and held firm the last few elections, so Dane county judges only get to delay before their specious rulings are overturned, but that still takes a while. Wisconsin overwhelmingly passed voter ID, for example, half a decade ago, but has been delayed and delayed, almost entirely the work of judges selected by the People’s Republic of Madison. Justice delayed is justice denied, and a lot of elections have happened since then.

    Madison is full of loons, and Milwaukee is full of looters (in both the Randian and ordinary senses); together they counterbalance a state that generally has common sense.

  6. Thats brings the main problem that no gun signs from “private” should never have more force of law and consequents as remove if leave on asking !

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