Lawmakers have introduced two variations of a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin. One sets up a licensing system, while the other version has no permitting restrictions.
Republican state Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), a co-sponsor of the proposals, says the two variations of the bill are being offered because of the many variations of concealed carry policies across the country. She says many other states have had success with permitting systems, but others have been fine with simple constitutional or right to carry laws.
Galloway says a decision has not been made on which proposal will advance to the full Legislature. She says that will be a big part of a public hearing scheduled in Wausau next week at the UW Marathon County. The Wausau Republican says the sponsors want to get a feel for where the public stands on the issue first.
A public hearing on the bills is also being considered at the state Capitol in Madison.
A draft of the legislation does include restrictions on where concealed weapons can be carried, such as in schools, police stations, and taverns. However, Galloway says the exact details have not been finalized yet and changes are likely after the public hearing process.
Even though lawmakers are in the midst of working on the state budget, Galloway says there’s a real desire for them to take this up now. The freshman lawmaker says concealed carry was among the top issues she heard about on the campaign trail, even over jobs and the economy.
Wisconsin and Illinois are the only two states in the U.S. that still ban concealed carry. Former Governor Jim Doyle twice vetoed bills that would have legalized the practice.
Law enforcement groups have opposed past legislation, citing concerns about public safety.