Wisconsin concealed carry bill signed into law

Measure could allow for online safety training
Greenbay Gazette
July 8th, 2011

ROTHSCHILD — Wisconsin gun owners can apply for a permit to carry concealed weapons starting in November, after Gov. Scott Walker signed the legislation Friday afternoon.

About 50 people, many with handguns at their side, cheered as Walker signed the bill. The law requires gun owners to prove they have completed training before receiving a permit to carry a concealed handgun, club or electric weapon.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has until Nov. 1 to develop a permit process. The law allows a variety of training options, including the Department of Natural Resource's hunter safety classes. Concealed carry permit holders can carry concealed weapons in most public buildings, including city halls and possibly the State Capitol, unless there is a sign posted saying they are not permitted. The law doesn't apply to shotguns or rifles.

For about 50 protesters standing on the sidewalk outside The Grand Lodge hotel in Rothschild on Friday afternoon, Walker's stop was an opportunity to call for the governor's recall.

Vicky Van Straten, a retired teacher from Merrill, carried a sign reading: "The right to bear arms is #2. But the #1 right of citizens to petition their government is being ignored."

"No matter what you try to talk to the governor about, he won't listen," Van Straten said.

Becky Lee of Marshfield, who belongs to the board of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, said putting more guns on the street won't make Wisconsin residents safer.

"I'm glad there were some common-sense measures added (to require training)," Lee said. "I want to know who's carrying a gun when I'm out with my kids."

The law, which now leaves Illinois as the only state without some sort of concealed-carry measure, allows about a half-dozen ways for a concealed-carry applicant to meet the training requirement and qualify for a permit.

One is to complete a firearms safety course conducted by a certified firearms instructor. Because the law doesn't specify what constitutes a safety course, someone could sit through an online training course — including one that wasn't designed for concealed-carry purposes.

But some people were unsettled by the idea of training that didn't involve hands-on practice.

"I strongly believe someone should know how to use a weapon correctly if they're going to carry it," said Bryon Fennig, 55, who works at a Muskego gun club.

— Kathleen Foody writes for the Wausau Daily Herald.
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