Wisconsin, Marquette adapt to new concealed carry law

Wisconsinites have pounced on the new concealed carry law as thousands of applications pour in daily. Photo by A. Martina Ibanez-Baldor/angela.ibanez-baldor@marquette.edu

Since Wisconsin’s new concealed carry law went into effect last Tuesday, more than 25,000 Wisconsin residents have applied for a permit, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates thousands more will apply before the program’s first year ends.

Of those applicants, 1,669 licenses have been approved, and 1,514 of those approved have already been printed.

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 6, 464,203 applications were downloaded from the DOJ’s website. As of midday Monday, the DOJ had received 5,000 applications for concealed carry permits on that day alone.

Dana Brueck, a communications officer for the state attorney general’s office, said the large number of requests is not a surprise.

“The volume of applications isn’t unexpected,” Brueck said in an email. “We estimate a minimum of 100,000 in the first year alone and it could go much higher.”

Brueck said, of the applications thus far, 339 licenses were rejected by the DOJ, although she noted rejection did not necessarily mean denial.

The law was passed in June with the support of the legislature’s Republican majority and a smaller number of Democrats. With Wisconsin’s introduction of concealed carry, Illinois is the last state to have no law concerning the matter.

Residents age 21 and over are eligible for a permit provided they are not felons or otherwise banned from possessing firearms.

Recently, a rule requiring applicants to have completed at least four hours of firearms training has been suspended. Applicants now only require the signature of a certified instructor stating they have completed some sort of safety course.

However, guns are still prohibited from certain spaces, such as courthouses, prisons and all areas 1,000 feet beyond school grounds. Private buildings may prohibit concealed carry provided owners post a sign outside, as Marquette does on all its campus buildings.

Student response to the new law has thus far been mixed.

Kevin Fleming, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said concealed carry may provide a deterrent to criminals.

“I would like to think it would reduce (crime),” Fleming said. “Just because people won’t know what the other person that they are about to attack will be holding … so out of safety for themselves, I hope they wouldn’t try anything like that.”

Sean Pitts, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, expressed a more cautious viewpoint. He said it will take time to see how everything regarding the law plays out.

“I think it may pose a problem at some point,” Pitts said. “A lot of people that can get a hold of these guns have the opportunity to use them and that poses the opportunity for violence to start … I think it’s kind of a 50-50 thing going on right now.”

The Department of Public Safety will not be changing any of its policies, other than the indoor weapons ban instituted by the administration. According to Lt. Paul Mascari, DPS officers have already been trained to check suspects for the possibility of weapons.

“Our officers aren’t going to treat contacts on the street any different than how we did last month when there was no concealed carry law,” Mascari said. “An officer – when they’re coming in contact with somebody for whatever reason – is going to assume that person might be armed and they’re going to take the appropriate precautions.”

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