Legislation that would allow anyone who can legally own a firearm to carry it concealed is headed to the Senate floor, after a committee approved the bill Wednesday on a party line vote. Democrats raised numerous concerns about the lack of training requirements or permits in the bill legalizing what’s called constitutional carry.
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) worries not requiring training could put the public at risk. He predicts there will be a case where someone is carrying a weapon just because they can, and end up using it improperly and injuring an innocent bystander.
Supporters contend that most people who will carry a concealed weapon will seek out that training on their own. Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), the sponsor of the bill, says the purpose of the measure is to allow people to protect themselves. She worries a training mandate could prove too expensive for some people who might otherwise be able to learn how to properly handle a firearm from a family member or friend.
Previous versions of the bill have required permits and training, which law enforcement continues to call for. Senator Galloway says police are approaching the issue from a different way of thinking. She says those wanting to carry a concealed weapon will only be doing so for self defense, not as an attempt to keep the peace.
Democrats pushed for amendments to the bill that would have banned concealed weapons from numerous private and public places, such as churches, domestic violence shelters, and taverns. Those were rejected; with Republicans pointing out that bill allows many of those types of locations to act on their own.
This version of concealed carry legislation does allow people to get a permit so they can comply with other states where one is required. Another version of the proposal that does require permits is still up for consideration at the Capitol, but it also does not require training.
The bill passed on a 3-2 party line vote. There’s no word on when the full Senate will take up the measure.