Wisconsin – Serious Push For Constitutional Carry

Wisconsin legislators are mounting a serious push to bring Wisconsin into the Constitutional carry club. Two weeks ago, on 28 March, 2017, the Right to Carry Act LRB-2039/1, was announced in the legislature. I have been hearing rumors about such a bill, but details were lacking.

The Wisconsin legislature is catching up with what the people voted for in 1998.  In 1998, Wisconsin finished an arduous process to pass a right to keep and bear arms amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution.  It ended any argument about weather the Second Amendment applied to Wisconsin. From Article I Section 25:

 The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.

There is no qualifier on bearing arms in the amendment.  All but six states have some constitutional provision protecting the right to arms. Many states who wished to restrict concealed carry, put a qualifier in their amendment specifically granting the state the power to regulate bearing concealed weapons.

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah have or had such provisions. Wisconsin voters and legislators did not include such qualifiers.

Louisiana and Missouri have acted to remove those qualifiers.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court was dominated by anti-rights liberals until recently. They refused to accept the clear meaning of Section 25. Most of the leftist justices have been replaced. A recent Supreme Court decision has strong hints that the majority on the Court are now willing to enforce Section 25.

Two different sources have informed me that the Constitutional Carry bill in Wisconsin has the votes to pass the legislature, and that Governor Walker will sign the bill. The bill is a well thought out reform that changes numerous provisions in Wisconsin law, removing statutory restrictions on the carry of arms that are unsupportable under Section 25.

The bill would repeal the silly Wisconsin gun free school zone law, a direct copy of a proposed federal statute. The  statute has provisions that make no sense for a state law. The statute bans the carry of guns within a thousand feet of a school, directly violating section 25 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

The bill reforms laws banning the carry of weapons will shining a light on wildlife, removes numerous “gun free zones”, and expands the state “shall issue” permit to non-residents. In a nod to the Federal Supreme Court decision in Caetano, it removes restrictions on electric weapons. Here is the comprehensive legislative summary of what the bill does.

From the bill:

Current law generally prohibits an individual from carrying a concealed weapon unless the individual has a license to carry a concealed weapon that is issued by the Department of Justice or unless the individual has a law enforcement identification card indicating that he or she is a qualified current or former law enforcement officer. This bill eliminates the general prohibition against going armed with a concealed weapon without regard to licensure status. This bill also eliminates current law prohibitions against carrying firearms in specified places, but retains the current law that allows certain persons to post buildings and grounds so that individuals who carry a firearm in violation of the posting commit trespass. For instance, this bill eliminates the prohibition on carrying a firearm on school grounds and, for persons without a license to carry a concealed weapon, in a school zone. Instead, this bill allows schools to post their buildings and grounds under the trespassing laws. An individual who violates the trespassing provision is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor if the individual is in a posted school building and a Class B forfeiture if the individual is on the posted grounds of a school.

Likewise, the bill eliminates the general prohibition against carrying a firearm in other buildings, such as a police station, a house of correction, or a secure mental health facility, but allows the appropriate governmental entity to post the buildings against carrying a firearm. This bill also eliminates the prohibitions against carrying a firearm, bow, or crossbow in a wildlife refuge and eliminates the prohibitions against carrying a firearm, bow, or crossbow while engaging in certain activities, such as operating an all-terrain vehicle. In addition, current law prohibits an individual from shining wildlife while the individual is hunting or possessing a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow. This bill maintains that the individual may not shine wildlife while hunting but eliminates the prohibition on shining while possessing a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow. The federal gun-free school zone law generally prohibits the possession of a firearm in a school zone but exempts an individual who is licensed to possess a firearm by the state in which the school zone is located if the license involves a background check on the individual. For purposes of being able to possess a firearm in a school zone under federal law, as well as for purposes of being allowed to carry a firearm in other states that require licensure, this bill maintains the license to carry a concealed weapon and the law enforcement identification cards. This bill makes two modifications to the process to obtain a new license to carry a concealed weapon.

First, under this bill, DOJ may issue a license to an applicant who is not a Wisconsin resident; under current law, only a resident may be issued a license. Second, although current law requires proof of completing a training program for a license, under this bill, if an otherwise qualified applicant does not provide proof of completing a training program, DOJ must issue the applicant a license that indicates that the license is a basic license. For in-state purposes, the license and the basic license are indistinguishable, and, under this bill, both are optional. The bill also provides that, if the federal government creates standards that would allow a license to carry a concealed weapon to be recognized by other states and the license issued by DOJ does not comply with the federal standards, DOJ must create an optional enhanced license to carry a concealed weapon that complies with the federal standards.

Finally, current law generally prohibits the possession of electric weapons, commonly known as tasers. This bill eliminates that prohibition except the prohibition is maintained for an individual who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. This bill also changes the definition of “firearm” by specifically excluding antique firearms, as defined under federal law, which excludes firearms manufactured before 1898 and muzzleloading firearms. For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as an appendix to this bill.

Wisconsin was the second to last state to pass a “shall issue” concealed carry statute. The legislation had been repeatedly stopped by former AG and Governor Jim Doyle, who twice vetoed carry bills. Because of the delay, the final bill became one of the best “shall issue” statutes in the nation.

Perhaps, because of the prior refusal of the Supreme Court to enforce the right to arms amendment, the legislature will enact this strong Constitutional Carry statute, enforcing the will of the people.  The legislators expect Second Amendment supporters to continue to push for this bill.

Opponents of the right to arms are pushing against enactment in the Milwaukee and Madison papers.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch


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