Marquette Wire

Governor Doyle expected to veto conceal and carry bill

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Gov. Jim Doyle has vowed to veto a bill that would allow Wisconsin residents who meet state requirements to carry concealed weapons in public places.

If the bill passes Doyle, people would be able to carry weapons including handguns, tear gas guns, stunguns, knives other than switchblades and billy clubs.

People would still not be able to bring weapons into police stations, prisons, sheriff’s offices, state patrol offices, school administration buildings, airports and other buildings where weapons are prohibited by federal law.

Marquette officials worked with the state legislature to enact an exemption for university property. If the bill is signed, people will not be able to bring weapons into university buildings.

“In terms of the conceal and carry bill, we worked closely with the legislature and had hoped to get an exemption for university campuses,” said Ben Tracy, director of university communication. “In the end, we were successful in getting the exemption for university buildings.”

Under the proposed law, people must obtain a permit in order to carry a weapon. To obtain a permit, people must not have convictions of domestic violence misdemeanor or any felonies within the past three years.

The bill also says individuals must not be unlawfully using a controlled substance, or be under a restraining order dealing with stalking, harassment or domestic violence. Persons also must not have been committed to a mental health facility in the past three years.

Bill opponents feel that allowing weapons to be concealed and carried in public places will endanger people, not make them safer, as proponents claim.

“The governor doesn’t think the citizens of Wisconsin would be safer at places like the mall, and Little League (games) and especially during the holiday season if people are allowed to carry guns,” said Josh Morby, spokesman for Doyle.

If the bill passes, guns will become a more prevalent part of society, a concern of individuals opposed to the bill.

“People who are normally law-abiding citizens would find themselves in situations compromising judgment,” said Max Simmons, a legislative aide for state Rep. Tom Hebl (D-Sun Prairie), who voted against the bill. “It’s bad enough when people get in a fist fight, but there is no dead innocent bystander in a fist fight. The representative disagrees with the authors of the bill. Our research shows that five out of the 10 safest states don’t have conceal and carry.”

State Sen. Tom Reynolds (R-West Allis) voted for the bill, which he believes could deter crime.

“It provides a general deterrent to criminals because they don’t know if a particular person they are choosing to target will be carrying,” said Steve Krieser, chief of staff to state Reynolds.

The bill was passed in the state Senate 24-8 earlier this month, falling short of the necessary two-thirds majority needed for overturning Doyle’s potential veto.

School zones are specifically mentioned as locations where people cannot possess conceal and carry weapons, unless the weapon is stored within the vehicle or the weapon is within the vehicle and the owner is simply driving through the school zone with no intention of stopping, according to the proposed bill.

State Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) also voted for the legislation and feels it provides a way for citizens to protect themselves.

“The representative supports the conceal and carry legislation and agrees with the exceptions included,” said Michael Welsh, a legislative aide for Fitzgerald. “It is a good policy because it allows law-abiding citizens to get a conceal and carry permit.”

In addition to the qualifications that must be passed in order to be eligible for a conceal and carry permit, a person must pass one of several weapon safety courses, be physically able to handle a weapon safely and be a resident of Wisconsin.

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