Draconian handgun laws in Chicago, Washington D.C. and other cities have done little to stem a rising tide of violent crime. What they have done is making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to self-protect with guns. That indisputable reality doesn’t keep Democratic lawmakers from insisting that making easier for non-criminals to legally carry guns will make society less safe.
A Republican proposal unveiled Tuesday would make Wisconsin a “constitutional carry state.” The Right to Carry Act allows law-abiding Badger State residents to carry a concealed gun without obtaining a state-issued license. Wisconsinites can already open carry firearms on their person without a license. This bill would make state gun laws consistent. It would also allow parents who conceal carry to have guns in their cars while dropping off kids at school without breaking the law. That isn’t the case right now.
Less than an hour after the bill was announced, Democratic minority leader Jennifer Shilling issued a news release claiming: “In the wake of mass shootings, Republicans want to arm more teenagers.” State Senator Chris Larson made the same baseless claim. The proposed bill doesn’t change the age at which you can purchase a handgun. And Republicans aren’t giving away guns, or as Shilling put it, “arm(ing) more teenagers” or anyone else. Here is more:
MADISON, WI – As gun lobbyists push to expand access to firearms across the country, Wisconsin Republicans announced their plan to allow dangerous individuals to carry firearms without a permit or background check. The “Permitless Carry” proposal by Wisconsin Republicans would lower the age to carry a concealed weapon and give dangerous individuals greater access to firearms. In response, Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) released the following statement:
“Gun violence in Wisconsin is a public health crisis. I don’t hear anyone clamoring to put more painkillers on the street to combat opioid abuse, so why do Republicans think more guns in the hands of dangerous criminals will make our communities safer? Allowing anyone to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public without any safety training or a simple background check is completely irresponsible.
Let’s analyze Shilling’s claims point by point:
- …”Wisconsin Republicans announced their plan to allow dangerous individuals to carry firearms without a permit or background check.” Dangerous criminals already have the ability to carry firearms without a permit or background check. They’re called criminals. Shilling seems to believe that those wanting to do harm with a handgun won’t carry it unless it is legally licensed. Crime statistics in Milwaukee and other cities tell a different story.
- ” Allowing anyone to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public without any safety training or a simple background check is completely irresponsible.” Remove the word “concealed” and Shilling described existing state law. Wisconsin residents can already open carry without a license, training or background check. Why doesn’t a situation that has existed for decades terrify Shilling?
- “Gun violence in Wisconsin is a public health crisis. I don’t hear anyone clamoring to put more painkillers on the street to combat opioid abuse, so why do Republicans think more guns in the hands of dangerous criminals will make our communities safer? How many of the guns contributing to the public health crisis to which Shilling refers are legally licensed concealed carry guns? How does she know this won’t lead far more law-abiding citizens to conceal carry to protect themselves and others?
As the NRA pointed out in a news release supporting the bill, this proposal in no way changes who can legally carry a concealed gun in Wisconsin: The bill does not affect who can carry a firearm. Anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence, adjudicated mentally ill, dishonorably discharged from the military, or under 21, is not legally allowed to possess a firearm, and that remains so under LRB 2039.
As the NRA put it in its release: “Current law in Wisconsin allows residents to openly carry a firearm without a permit as long as it can be seen, such as on their hip. However, the moment that gun owner puts on a jacket, they become a criminal.”