You’ve seen the map. That nasty red rights impingement zone smack dab in the middle of the country that looks like it’s about to cleave the U.S. in two. [Note: This map hasn’t been updated to show Wyoming and Arizona as “Unrestricted” carry.] The Wisconsin legislature has entered two bills that would legalize concealed carry in the land of cheese curds and badgers. Unlike last week’s failed bid in Illinois, the chances of a veto in Wisconsin are somewhere between slim and none…
Pro-gun legislators seem to be hedging their bets with the two bills. One would require gun owners to apply for a five-year renewable license. The second would enact “constitutional carry” along the lines of laws in Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming. In other words, a legal gun owner with a legally purchased firearm is free to carry the weapon concealed without any further paperwork or fee, subject to the usual legal restrictions.
Most Wisconsin police organizations have been supportive or, at least, neutral on concealed carry in general. The constitutional carry bill, though, is giving some of them the willies. Jim Palmer, head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (is there a Wisconsin Amateur Police Association?) calls constitutional carry “absurd” and says most of his members oppose it.
Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke Jr. says he’s all for concealed carry—but isn’t so sure about constitutional carry. Milwaukee PD Chief Ed Flynn doesn’t like constitutional carry at all. “The bills as currently drafted put the lives of my officers at risk,” Flynn said. “They have to presume that when they approach someone on the street they’re lawfully carrying.”
It doesn’t sound like training is a big emphasis on the Milwaukee force. It’s hard to find a cop that doesn’t already assume everyone they talk to is carrying, legally or otherwise.
As optimists in Illinois can tell you, don’t count your chickens. There’s nothing much uglier than the legislative process. A training requirement may have to be added to the licensing bill it get it passed. And look for the cops to come out loudly against constitutional carry.
But Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is no Pat Quinn. He’s already shown extreme fortitude in the face of determined opposition. But don’t tell the folks in Illinois. They’re too busy enjoying the quiet, violence-free paradise they’ve created for themselves. Or not.