Surrounded by leaders from the National Rifle Association and other supporters, Governor Scott Walker on Friday signed legislation that makes Wisconsin the 49th state in the nation to legalize the concealed carry of weapons. The Personal Protection Act allows Wisconsinites over 21, who pass a background check and undergo training, to apply for a permit to carry concealed.
Governor Walker says no one in the state should have to fear for their personal safety and this law gives them the power to protect themselves and their families. Walker says safeguards put in place within the law will make sure citizens can legally carry a firearm and will also help to crackdown on those who choose to carry illegally.
The law will not take effect until November First of this year, giving the Department of Justice time to set up a permitting system. Republican Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), the author of the bill, predicts there will be an initial rush of people seeking permits. However, she expects that to level off over time.
NRA Executive vice president Wayne LaPierre was on hand for the bill signing. He says the right to carry means Wisconsin residents will go from having no chance when facing criminals to “having a fighting chance.”
Critics of the bill have raised a wide range of concerns. Anti-violence groups argue the training requirements are too simple, essentially allowing a person to watch a video online to fulfill them.
Opponents also worry there are too few restrictions on where concealed carry is allowed. The bill bans hidden guns from police stations and courthouses, but allows them in most other public locations unless signs have been posted. Private businesses will also have to post signs saying concealed carry is not allowed.