Now that the Legislature has approved a bill legalizing concealed carry in Wisconsin, a state lawmaker is looking to increase penalties for those who do it illegally.
During the debate over the bill, a central argument of supporters was that criminals don’t care if it’s legal, they’ll carry a hidden weapon anyway. However, State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) says there are concerns that the current penalties for doing so are not enough.
Under current law, those caught carrying a concealed weapon illegally may only face a misdemeanor charge. Darling is sponsoring a bill that would increase that penalty to a felony if the person could not legally obtain a permit.
Darling says it will give police and local prosecutors more weapons to go after those who repeatedly violate the law.
The proposal also goes after the practice of straw purchases, where someone buys a gun and knowingly hands it over to a person who cannot legally own a gun. The bill makes it a felony for the purchaser and the recipient.
Straw buys are illegal under federal law, but Darling says the bill would allow the state to also prosecute the offense.
Both provisions are something Democrats had pushed for to be included in the larger concealed carry bill. Darling says she wanted the issues to be taken up separately though, because the bill already approved by lawmakers dealt with legal concealed carry. She says this bill is all about those who break the law.