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Conceal-carry law, truth-in-sentencing on lawmakers' wish lists

By   /   April 28, 2011  /   13 Comments

By Kevin Lee      Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON  —  The time for a concealed-carry law in Wisconsin may be at hand.

Legislation that would allow individuals to carry concealed firearms will be introduced "in the next few weeks," according to state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.

The concealed-carry debate is one that Wisconsin lawmakers have held for a decade. But with support coming from the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate and Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the issue will see renewed debate, according to Wanggaard.

"You'll see it before summer, we're working on it now," said Wanggaard. "It's still a work-in-progress."

And while lawmakers are on a crime-and-punishment roll, debate is expected next week on a "truth-in-sentencing" plan that would roll back prisoner early-release provisions set during the Gov. Jim Doyle administration.

There also are separate legislative proposals that would crack down on sex abusers, gun thefts and drug users.

The issues are moving to the front burner after lawmakers spent the first part of the session addressing budget issues.

Concealed carry

Wisconsin and Illinois are the only states that do not allow residents to carry concealed firearms, according to National Rifle Association lobbyist Darren La Sorte.

States vary as to how they administer concealed carry licensing, with 37 states using a permit system that depends on uniform standards created by state legislatures.

"November's election was a referendum of concealed carry. It was an issue that came up in every town hall meeting, in every debate," La Sorte said. "Voters showed that the time for guessing about gun legislation is over."

The National Rifle Association has organized a series of early May workshops in the Eau Claire, Milwaukee and Wausau areas on legislative proposals that may come before state lawmakers.

Jeri Bonavia, executive director of WAVE, an anti-violence group, refuted the notion that concealed carry would help with self-defense.

"More people carrying more guns won't make our state safer," she said.

Bonavia said that if concealed carry did have to pass the Legislature, she would like to see a permitting process with background checks for gun holders and an "opt-in" requirement where gun owners would not be allowed into businesses unless those businesses gave permission.

Wanggaard, a former investigator with the Racine Police Department, said he wants a concealed carry program with training provisions, such as classroom study and range practice time.

La Sorte said that with Republican majorities in the Legislature, the NRA would push for as open a law as possible.

Truth in sentencing

Proposals in the Assembly and Senate would roll back "early release" provisions for prisoners approved by Doyle in 2009.

Under the program, nonviolent criminals can apply for early release by the Department of Corrections review commission. A 2009 Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo indicated the program was created to cut costs for holding inmates while encouraging good behavior.

But Wanggaard, the Senate sponsor of the proposal, said the program does not emphasize the right messages.

"It's more difficult to get a job in this environment. We've done nothing to promote this person is going to be successful," he said. "It's also the idea of having consequences for your actions. You don't end up in prison because you got your first parking ticket."

The Senate Committee on Labor, Public Safety and Public Affairs and the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Corrections are each scheduled to discuss similar legislation next Thursday that would eliminate early release.

The Assembly proposal is AB 86 and the Senate proposal is SB 57.

Harsher penalties for stolen firearms

State Rep. Daniel LeMahieu, R-Cascade, recently introduced two proposals that would impose stiffer penalties for criminal activity.

Under one proposal, AB 103, individuals who knowingly possessed a stolen firearm would be charged with a felony, the same penalty as if the individual had actually stolen the firearm.

As of now, individuals who knowingly possess a stolen firearm face a maximum charge of a misdemeanor.

Stricter sentences for sexual abusers

The other proposal, AB 102, would provide for harsher penalties to an individual who is a licensed child-care provider and has been convicted of sexually abusing a child.

Sentencing judges would be able to add five years prison time on top of the maximum charge possible.

"When we drop our babies and young kids off at day care centers, we expect them to be in a safe place," LeMahieu said.

Both proposals from LeMahieu are being considered in Assembly committees.

Drug legislation

Multiple proposals introduced in the Legislature aim to reduce usage and production of synthetically created drugs.

Legislative proposals in the Assembly and Senate classify two stimulants and synthetic cannabis, more popularly known as fake pot, as controlled substances.

Under the proposals, a first offense for possessing synthetic cannabis is a felony punishable up to a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or both. Those potential charges get boosted up to $5,000, a year in jail, or both, if an individual is charged with possession of either of the two stimulants.

The stimulants are mephedrone, referred to in slang as "meow meow," and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, referred to in slang as "MDPV" or "Magic." According to the National Institute of Health, the stimulants are hallucinogenic and sometimes looked upon as cheaper substitutes for cocaine.


  • Joe Brown

    I’m a responsible adult with no previous criminal record. I served my Country as a member of the United States Marine Corps that included a 13 month tour of duty in Vietnam. I earned the Combat Action Ribbon for taking part in direct combat actions against the enemy. I also received other decorations for valor during this same time frame. As an Honorably Discharged veteran with no criminal record and a long history of being a law abiding citizen, I feel it is my right to bear arms and to carry a concealed weapon. I feel this right should be made available to citizens of Wisconsin who have demonstrated a respect for law enforcement and their fellow citizens.

  • Brad

    Concealed carry is long overdue. And it should be without permits. If you have passed the background check to buy a firearm, that should be the end of it. Therefore if you own a firearm, you can carry it with you. That’s what the criminals do right now, and I don’t hear anyone worrying about them carrying their guns without a permit. On the contrary, gun charges against robbers, rapists, muggers, etc., are routinely plea-bargained away or just dropped altogether. So, let’s cut the bull, and give the law abiding Wisconsin taxpayers the same rights that the convicted felons already have.

  • Al Kostopoulos

    Looks like we are finally getting it together in the capital. Way to go, we have the majorities now is the time to flat out “Git’r Dunn”. Thanks for all your hard work.

    Al K.

  • David Armstrong

    I hope they take the time to make sure the CC law they devise reciprocates with the greatest number of other States.

  • Gman

    Having been robbed at gunpoint by a felon and watching that person shoot the man standing next to me, this law is LONG overdue. I am a law-abiding citizen and there is no earthy reason why I should not be able to legally carry a weapon in Wisconsin to defend myself. These people that carry in the other 48 states are no more worthy than the people in Wisconsin to be able to defend themselves.

    Constitutional Carry….all the way.

  • I hope that the reporter learns the meaning of the word “refute” to avoid it’s future misuse. He wrote: “Jeri Bonavia, executive director of WAVE, an anti-violence group, refuted the notion that concealed carry would help with self-defense.” To “refute” means to disprove something or to prove something to be erroneous. Ms. Bonavia may DISPUTE the efficacy of concealed carry, but she certainly has not “refuted” it.

  • Doug Huffman

    ‘Concealed carry’ will be interpreted as a privilege granted for a fee by the state, and with prerequisites that the gallus-snapping NRA aficionados stand ready to sell.

    Constitutional Carry is a right granted by our Creator and enumerated in the Bill of Rights and acknowledged by Wisconsin’s Constitution Section I Article 25

    Good people ought to be armed as they will, with wits and Guns and the Truth. Producers retire, strike! Looters and moochers attend to your master.

  • Magnum_Force

    Allowing people to carry without an expensive permit and costly training may sound radical, but its not. Thousands of Wisconsin citizens open carry firearms on a daily basis without an issue – if local police understand the law. Repeal the no concealed carry law. That would put concealed carry on the same standing as open carry which is currently cosidered Constitutional Carry.

  • MKEgal

    I think it’s long overdue that the government stop infringing the rights of law-abiding citizens.

    All laws against (or controlling) guns do is give criminals the upper hand.

    Hint: criminals are the ones who cause problems. Criminals also don’t follow laws.

    So no law prohibiting concealed carry (or car carry, or assault, or robbery, or rape, or murder) will ever stop a criminal from doing what he wants.

    A no-CCW law does, however, stop a decent citizen from being able to protect herself from criminals while not annoying people like Jeri (who choose to remain defenseless… it’s their choice, but they can’t decide that *_I_* should be defenseless).

    Jeri may wish for the state to further infringe the rights of good citizens, but legislators know they must follow the law. And with our Republican-controlled state legislature, with the Republican party platform supporting Constitutional Carry (no permit needed to carry however suits you), we can have as much freedom as residents of Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, & Wyoming.

  • tom stock

    Concealed carry will make us all safer. I know the more weapons there are in a crowd the safer I feel. Idiots that argue otherwise have never been in a situation where they had to defend themselves against armed agression. I can’t count the number of times I needed to be armed to keep myself, friends and family safe, because that number is Zero. Oh sure there have been times when I could have talked tougher and been more pushy had I been armed. There have been times when I felt like I would have liked to used one on very aggressive, hateful people but thank God I wasn’t armed. Many proponents of these militant type laws have a cowboy attitude with a bit of wish list that includes that they can be a hero someday by fighting evil and protecting the innocent. They have a better chance of winning the lottery, good luck!

  • Brad

    To Doug Huffman: Boy, did you ever hit the nail on the head. Excellent! No permits.

  • Edd

    It’s about time, our state went along with the majority of people who want and should be able to carry concealed here in Wisconsin. It’s been proven, over and over, that when the unlawful citizen wants to harm his law abiding citizen and he doesn’t know whether the law abiding citizen is carrying, he’ll think twice before assaulting them if it’s in a state where “Concealed Carry” is the law.

  • Bryan M

    Jeri Bonavia has shown her VERY liberal tendancies time and time again with WAVE.

    They have a facebook page that a number of us “gun nuts” used fact and reason to counter her groups misinformation, and the net result was that we all were banned from that page, and all of our posts were deleted. That page continues to garner more and more people who actually have the right intentions that will be perverted into WAVEs brainwashing agenda of being simply anti-gun, not anti-violence. So a page was created on Facebook called “Wisconsin Anti Violence Effort Lies” and is used to counter all the lies, half truths, and misinformation she spreads there. We also have a standing invitation for all of WAVEs members to come and try to have an open discussion with us in the hopes that we can have a civil debate. (To date there has only been one of them brave enough to even attempt it, and his posts started out by being the usual liberal attempt to justify their position by calling us all sorts of names…although recently he has actually started to talk with us, so maybe we’re doing the right thing instead of just banning him like Jeri and company do to any opposition to silence them.)