Citizens to soon carry handguns on city streets

Written by admin   // June 23, 2011   // 0 Comments

Concealed carry bill passes in Assembly, Walker to sign into law

by MCJ Staff

Amid a firestorm of controversy, the concealed carry bill will soon become law, making it legal for everyday people to walk around the city with hidden handguns.

Tuesday the state Assembly passed the bill with a 68-27 vote; the bill is on its way to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk where he is expected to sign it. When he does, Wisconsin will become the 49th state in the country to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons.

While all Republicans and 11 Democrats in the Assembly supported the bill, not one Milwaukee Democrat was in favor of the measure.

Many of the Republicans say the bill restores the right of law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for their protection. Yet the Democrats and others who are against the measure cite safety concerns, particularly in a climate with high unemployment and unrest.

There is also growing concern for permitting concealed weapons in parks, parades and summer festivals where alcohol is served and situations can easily escalate out of control.

Gov. Walker, who supports the measure, has said he will release a timetable for signing the bill after he receives it. Once he signs the bill, it will go into effect this fall on either Oct. 1 or Nov. 1, depending on when it is published.

Under the bill, the state Department of Justice would have to issue permits to state residents 21 and over who received proper training and cleared background checks, showing they were not felons or otherwise prohibited from carrying guns.

People would have to offer proof that they have passed a course on firearms training, firearms safety or hunter safety.

While training is required before a permit is issued, the law does not give specific training guidelines or require live shooting practice.

There are some limitations on where concealed weapons would be permitted. For instance, guns would be banned from law enforcement offices, prisons, jails, courthouses, secure mental health facilities, and the areas of airports beyond security checkpoints.

However, guns would be allowed in city and state parks and even government-owned grounds like the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Capitol lawn. Additionally, provided they were not drinking, permit holders would be allowed to carry guns in taverns and other places that sell alcohol.

While the ban on guns in school, on school grounds and in school zones remains, guns would be permitted in areas just off the school grounds.

Under the law, private groups, businesses and properties could post signs telling people guns are not allowed, but would not receive immunity from any legal liability from that decision. However, those private individuals and groups that allow concealed carry on their property would have blanket immunity.

While there is quite a bit of controversy and there are some limitations to the law, one thing remains the same: once passed, people will be allowed to carry concealed weapons throughout the state.

Whenever carrying a gun, taser or other concealed weapon, people would have to have permits and photo IDs with them. The permits would cost no more than $50 and would be valid for five years; renewing a license would cost $25.

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