Wisconsin’s attorney general says he’d have preferred a law which doesn’t require any training for those who want to carry concealed weapons. And now J.B. Van Hollen’s decision to draft rules requiring a minimum of four hours training is drawing criticism from the National Rifle Association and the legislative author of the state’s new concealed carry law.
“I wish from a personal perspective there had not been a training requirement, and I wish they had not put the burden on me to establish what that training requirement was,” said Van Hollen. “If they didn’t intend the law to do that, they certainly have an opportunity to fix that, and I’d encourage them to do so. I’m really tied to following the law whether I like or not, or whether they like or not.”
“We debated whether or not to have any type of specific hours being set and rejected that idea.” said state Senator Pam Galloway, the Wausau Republican who authored the concealed carry bill. “And he (Van Hollen) knows that. I met several weeks ago with the assistant attorney general and laid out the legislative intent.” But Van Hollen said what’s actually in the law trumps legislative intent. “When it comes to interpreting and enforcing laws, the clear reading of the law is what is the binding force. Legislative intent comes second. If that was Senator Galloway’s intent in drafting the legislation, she should have been more careful in drafting the legislation. Because that’s not what the law says.”
Van Hollen’s Department of Justice is expected to have administrative rules in place by the time the concealed carry law goes into effect November 1st. Galloway said nothing in the law requires that those rules establish any sort of minimum number of hours of training. “This has all been debated the legislature, and Attorney General Van Hollen is making this up,” she said. “This is purely a product of his imagination.” She added that legislators “will work to overturn any mandates that Attorney General Van Hollen, working outside his authority, imposes on the people of the state of Wisconsin.”
Van Hollen said he’s looking out for the interests of gun rights advocates. “We essentially set the standard as minimally as we believed we could do justifiably. And much of that was to protect gun rights advocates from anybody who’s going to tell them that they have to do more,” he said. “I was a little surprised that the NRA was complaining, because I would think that they would have been actually, quite frankly happy with what we had done.”