Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW) laws being considered by Wisconsin legislation

Concealed carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) laws are being considered in Wisconsin. There are gun control groups and law enforcement officers on one side and gun rights groups on the other side of the debate. The issue even has been termed bi-partisan in many other states.

Lawmakers have introduced two variations of a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin. One sets up a licensing system, while the other version has no permitting restrictions.

Republican state Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), a co-sponsor of the proposals, says the two variations of the bill are being offered because of the many variations of concealed carry policies across the country. She says many other states have had success with permitting systems, but others have been fine with simple constitutional or right to carry laws.

Galloway says a decision has not been made on which proposal will advance to the full Legislature. She says that will be a big part of a public hearing scheduled in Wausau next week at the UW Marathon County. The Wausau Republican says the sponsors want to get a feel for where the public stands on the issue first.

A public hearing on the bills is also being considered at the state Capitol in Madison.

A draft of the legislation does include restrictions on where concealed weapons can be carried, such as in schools, police stations, and taverns. However, Galloway says the exact details have not been finalized yet and changes are likely after the public hearing process.

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WRN Report: (Andrew Beckett)

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In an analysis of 2006 death rates from the Concealed Carry Killers, a Violence Policy Center, they found states with the most permissive gun laws, including concealed carry laws, also had the highest rates of gun-related deaths. Arizona came out sixth in that study, while Illinois and Wisconsin ranked 37th and 40th, respectively. Looking at actual facts about gun violence nationally should be a part of the debate:

The Concealed Carry Killers, a Violence Policy Center (VPC) web site categorizes the 89 incidents, which occurred in 23 states, and offers detailed descriptions of each incident (some incidents may fit into multiple categories). Of these incidents, 15 were murder-suicides involving firearms and 13 were mass shootings (three or more victims) that claimed as many as 11 lives at a time. Law enforcement officers were killed in Alabama, Florida (two incidents), Idaho, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (two incidents). All of the law enforcement killings were committed with guns.

Private citizens were killed in Alabama, Arkansas, California (two incidents), Colorado, Florida (15 incidents), Idaho (two incidents), Kentucky, Massachusetts (two incidents), Michigan (nine incidents), Minnesota, New York, North Carolina (five incidents), Ohio (eight incidents), Oklahoma (two incidents), Oregon, Pennsylvania (seven incidents), Rhode Island, South Carolina (two incidents), Tennessee (seven incidents), Texas (three incidents), Utah (five incidents), Virginia (five incidents), and Washington. All but one of the killings were committed with guns.

Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Each month we are finding more and more killings by concealed handgun permit holders. Just as opponents of weak concealed carry laws warned, we now know that concealed handgun permit holders are killing people in road rage incidents, arguments over parking spaces, and domestic disputes. The incidents we document graphically demonstrate how the presence of a handgun escalates an argument to a homicide. How many more people must die at the hands of concealed carry killers before state legislators act to fix these laws?”

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Law enforcement professionals are concerned about how the legislation will be authored and await details:

Many people out shooting say they would welcome the law but not everyone agrees that letting people carry guns would be good for Wisconsin.

“I am proud of our state we’re only one of two states that don’t have it. Why would we want to pattern after states that have a higher homicide rate per capita then we do and have loose restriction on hand guns,” says Gerald Wilkie, Director of the Bolton Refuge House.

He says he sees the real threats made with guns with the stories some of the victims coming though his doors have. Wilkie says he hopes the bill doesn’t pass but if it does he hopes at least people read and understand what the bill means and that there are some restrictions. Local law enforcement officers also have questions about how the bill would work. Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer says he was only recently told about the new bill.

“We’ve been caught off guard on this thing we asked a number of legislators when you see this thing come up give us a call because we would really like to be a part of creating the very best legislation and carry and conceal in the nation,” says Cramer.

Sheriff Cramer says he’d like to see some required training in order to get a permit along with other restrictions. Many of the people shooting say they agree with that. However there were even those shooting at area ranges that don’t agree with the bill and told us off camera, guns should only be used at the range or for hunting.

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One can argue whether concealed, loaded hand guns in the possession of private citizens will stop violence. It’s not about whether to take away guns from private citizens, but whether walking around town or in many public places with a concealed gun makes it safer for the community.

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