Sometime today, a Wisconsin State Senate committee will vote on a proposal that would legalize concealed carry of firearms by private citizens in the Badger State, a right citizens of Washington State have enjoyed for generations.
Lots of Pacific Northwest eyes will be focused on the capitol at Madison while this debate unfolds, perhaps to gauge how well the argument goes for unlicensed “constitutional carry.”
Wisconsin newspapers have been buzzing for days about concealed carry, because it now appears that with pro-gun Republicans in control of the Legislature and a Republican now in the governor’s office, some form of carry legislation is bound to pass. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel makes it clear editorially today that it does not approve of a “constitutionally carry” bill now under consideration.
A permit and background check is essential and does not constitute burdensome regulation. Neither does a training requirement…
Also, the state’s tradition of open government argues in favor of transparency. The state should not conceal the names of carriers of concealed weapons. Permits should be public records.—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
In 1998, Wisconsin citizens approved Article 1, Section 25 of the state constitution, which reads: “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.” Twice, former Gov. Jim Doyle, an anti-gun liberal Democrat, vetoed concealed carry legislation.
Washington State might provide some guidance on this issue. Both states have large urban population centers and lots of rural countryside with smaller communities. Seattle and Milwaukee are cities of roughly the same population.
Last year, Seattle reported 19 homicides. Milwaukee logged 94 homicides. Washington citizens have exercised concealed carry since 1933. Open carry has been legal since Washington was a territory, and has remained that way under Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution, enacted with statehood in November 1889.
Wisconsin newspapers seem to have an anti-gun-rights editorial bent, with one – the Appleton Post Crescent – admitting today that it is opposed to concealed carry. The Wausau Daily Herald did allow an Op-Ed piece authored by State Sen. Pam Galloway, the Republican author of one concealed carry bill, insisting that concealed carry is a right.
We need to say from the outset that we’re against concealed carry. Wisconsin is already a low-crime state and studies on the effect of concealed carry and crime rates are split. Many law enforcement authorities have expressed concerns about concealed carry in the past.—Appleton Post Crescent
Elsewhere, the Fon du Lac Reporter reports the local police chief’s views about concealed carry, and he argues in favor of licensing and training to prevent police officer deaths. Chief Tony Barthuly says officer safety has “taken center stage” since one of his officers was killed in a shooting March 20. But that shooting death occurred before anyone could carry legally, and it happened at the gunman’s home, not on the street.
Gun rights activists might argue that the exercise of their civil rights should never be open to influence by the police. That depends upon the region, the department, the police administration and individual officers. There are a lot of very pro-gun-rights police officers and sheriff’s deputies. There are also a fair number of pro-gun police chiefs and sheriffs. The broad brush approach does not always apply, especially west of the Mississippi River.
The Green Bay Gazette says that the identities of legally-armed citizens need to be public record, using as its excuse the right of other citizens to be safe. Publishing names of CPL holders is journalistic harassment of gun owners, and newspapers know it. They just won’t admit it, because it’s the one form of voyeurism they can enjoy without having to explain publicly that it is voyeurism. Here in Washington, the identities of concealed pistol license (CPL) holders are confidential, and lately, that has only been a problem for a vicious dog in Kirkland’s Juanita Beach Park.
If Wisconsin adopts a carry statute, as appears likely, that will leave only Illinois without any type of legislative mechanism for the carrying of defensive firearms.
Illinois may be forced judicially to adopt some carry measure, thanks to two federal lawsuits, one filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and Illinois Carry, and the other filed by the National Rifle Association.
Some 6.2 million American citizens legally carry today. On Monday, the FBI released its preliminary uniform crime report for 2010, revealing that once again, violent crime has declined. There may be no correlation, but what is clear to gun rights advocates is that more guns do not mean more crime.
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