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COMMENTARY: Thickheadedness gums up conceal carry

By   /   October 18, 2011  /   6 Comments

By Kevin Binversie
It does not have to be this complicated.
After fighting years of opposition including multiple vetoes by former Gov. Jim Doyle, a notorious gun rights opponent, and a non-stop disinformation campaign from opponents, Wisconsin this spring left Illinois in the dust and joined 48 other states allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Starting Nov. 1, law-abiding Wisconsin residents can apply for permits to carry either a concealed handgun or concealed knife if they pass a background check.
Another requirement is a training course to ensure those legally carrying concealed weapons know their weapons and know how to use them safely. What’s been fiercely debated during the past few weeks is the length of that training, what is taught and what constitutes a completed course.
You would think those who long opposed concealed carry would be the final hurdle for this right? How, as a final gasp of breath, those who’ve been making their living trying to compare life in a Wisconsin where honest people carry concealed weapons to the Wild West or a war zone would be doing all they can to stop implementation of the law?
Instead Wisconsin Department of Justice and the National Rifle Association are butting heads. Law-abiding people of Wisconsin are caught in the middle.
Earlier this month, the NRA sent a letter to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen expressing concerns about rules to enforce the new law. At issue is whether DOJ has the authority to create guidelines regarding length of training, licensing certification of trainers and even what qualifies as adequate training.
Debate was put on the back burner last week when Gov. Scott Walker signed onto rules requiring a four-hour training session. Walker did indicate through spokesman Cullen Werwie these are only temporary rules, and he hopes to see no fixed time limit assigned in a more permanent set of DOJ rules.
Calls to the NRA for comment on a suitable level of training for a concealed carry permit were not immediately returned.
All sides are right and all sides are wrong in this argument. DOJ and Wisconsin law enforcement – not to mention all citizens — have a very legitimate concern about ensuring that the hundreds if not thousands of Wisconsinites now legally carrying concealed weapons are familiar with what they hold. Yet a one-size-fits-all approach to training may be unnecessary to the gun owner who’s been using firearms from a young age and has taken a hunter safety course.
NRA and other activists have a legitimate worry that bureaucrats may go too far, creating unwarranted hurdles to a 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. However, they go too far in their recent calls for “constitutional carry,” the idea that the 2nd Amendment gives you the unlimited right to carry a concealed weapon if a law allows it, without any additional training.
From the look of things NRA got a little greedy after years of being denied a concealed carry victory in Wisconsin. Instead of just being happy it finally achieved its policy goal of workable concealed carry legislation, (Warning: Obligatory Bad Gun Pun Coming) NRA shot itself in one foot with its push for “constitutional carry,” and shot the other foot by appearing to balk at any training whatsoever connected to "constitutional carry."
While the NRA is correct on the right to carry a concealed weapon, it is utterly ludicrous in demanding a permit system without some form of training required to ease the minds of law enforcement agencies, cops on the beat and people nervous about who is packing. Best would be a tier system of training in which experience with firearms dictates the amount of time needed.
Let’s be honest here, who would you be more concerned about disrespecting the firearms they are concealing? Someone who’s experienced and spent hours at a shooting range, or someone who’s never picked up a handgun before?
It is high past time the thickheaded arguing among advocates stops. Let the passions subside. Work out a system beneficial to all who want to carry and reassuring to those who do not.
Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native who has been blogging on the state’s political culture for more than eight years. He has served in the George W. Bush administration from 2007-2009, worked at the Heritage Foundation and has worked on numerous Wisconsin Republican campaigns in various capacities, most recently as research director for Ron Johnson for Senate. Contact him at [email protected]


  • Annette

    This argument would never be happening if we didn’t allow our rights to be permitted instead of being guaranteed. Constitutional Carry has not been a problem in the 4 states where the Constitution means something to those states’ legislators as well as to the citizens that reside in those states and we shouldn’t expect there to be a problem here.

    More money is being wasted by government elected officials who are all caught up in a political game maneuvers; instead of law-abiding citizens being ‘allowed’ to exercise their Constitutional Rights. It’s time to move forward.

    With Consitutional Carry, those that wish to exercise their rights of self-defense could do so and this ‘hype’ would not even a concern.

  • Richard Bruette

    Walker has lost my vote, I have been sucker punched by a rino.

  • Chris Pilot

    Constitutional Carry is the correct answer–it is the truth as put forth in the 2nd Ammendment. Any additional requirements is just a big government control grab. They need to grow the empire. Training is a good idea but it is a personal choice–based on the individuals need. It is amazing how we have Constitutional Carry with Open Carry but if we put a jacket on….

  • Ron Langevin

    You effin idiot, Walker signed the bill, and he, like everyone else concerned is being pounded on all sides regarding adiquite training. Perhaps 4 Hrs for some is overkill, but for others, it might take 40 hours to be able to be safe. I learned my .45 in the service, retrained every year and think I could do without but I’ll take it anyway GLADLY. I carry now and have for the past 50 years but would be nice to be legal again…………………………………

  • Grant Guess

    Look, it’s the WISCONSIN CONSTITUTION that should have been followed, not the federal constitution. Specifically, Article 1 Section 25. It states that citizens have the right to bear arms for defense. That is beyond all possible refute or argument.

    NRA was for permit carry and all of their press releases stated exactly that until the hardcore 2nd amendment types began screaming. Then the NRA began to get on the CC Bandwagon in the final 60 day push towards passage.

    What our DoJ really needs to do is look closely at the letter of the law as passed, not as how they would like it to be. Act 35 is a small, clear cut law that has been bureaucratized into 56 pages of frequently asked questions and turned into a confusing mess by the DoJ. They have taking the law into their own hands and tried to undo what the legislature intended. The legislature needs to send them a clear message and bring the permanent rules in line with what was intended.

    As far as Gov Walker is concerned. He had NO choice but to sign off on the emergency rules BY LAW! It is not his fault…it is the fault of the DoJ that has intentionally set up Act 35 so that it is confused and delayed for full implementation. I hold Van Hollen accountable and the man needs to get his resume polished.

  • Scott

    I plan on open carry. The Ruger LCR .380 is the size of a cell phone and holsters with a small footprint.

    The Constitution is the document that all of these politicians swear to uphold, right? Just making sure…