As the state prepares to unveil rules that will likely allow concealed weapons in the Capitol, the state Senate is poised to ban the public from carrying into its chambers.
The concealed carry law passed earlier this year takes effect on November first, allowing permit holders to carry hidden guns inside most government buildings, unless officials pass rules and post signs stating they are banned. The state Department of Administration is scheduled to outline a policy Friday morning that is expected to allow them inside parts of the Capitol under its control.
The law also allows the state Senate and Assembly to pass their own rules on whether hidden handguns will be allowed inside.
State Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) says he wants them banned from his chamber in both the gallery and on the floor. Ellis says “we have enough problems as it is without Tom Mix and Hopalong Cassidy with their six shooters out here.”
However, Ellis is only expected to get a portion of that wish granted. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says an agreement among Republicans will only ban hidden guns in the Senate galleries. Members with permits will be allowed to carry them on the floor, they will be allowed in committee hearing rooms, and Senators will have the power to ban them from their offices.
Ellis says he would prefer to stick with the current policy that bans guns from the building, but admits he lost that battle.
Meanwhile, the state Assembly is expected to approve rules that allow concealed guns in that chamber. Democrats, such as state Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), say the plan is a threat to public safety.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:02)
UPDATE: This story was edited from its original version to reflect the final compromise reached by Republicans, which will allow Senators with permits to carry concealed weapons in the chamber.