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Wisconsin's new law on right to carry



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July 20, 2011 | 08:36 AM
Earlier this month, Wisconsin became the 49th state which allows law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm while concealed. This matter has been under consideration by the Legislature for many years now, garnering support from both Republicans and Democrats alike. The bill signed into law on July 8, received broad bipartisan support and brought closure to a chapter in Wisconsin's history on a widely-debated issue. Since enactment, many have asked questions regarding the new law, which I would like to answer in this column.

First and foremost, any Wisconsin resident wishing to carry a firearm while concealed must receive a permit to do so from the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). While the bill was signed into law this month, the bulk of it will not go into effect until early November. That delay is necessary for the Department to work through the particulars of the application process, which will include a background check of the applicant. Permits will cost about $37 and the fee for the background check will be about $13. A nonresident of Wisconsin who holds a concealed carry permit from another state which the DOJ recognizes as a state with similar standards as Wisconsin will not be required to apply for a Wisconsin permit, so long as their out-of-state permit is in good standing.

Second, as a part of the permit application process, the applicant must provide documentation to the DOJ regarding their firearms training. Such training could include completion of the hunter safety course offered by the Department of Natural Resources, a firearms safety course offered by a state or national organization that certifies firearms instructors, a firearms safety course offered by a law enforcement agency, or a firearms safety training course offered by a state or nationally certified firearms instructor. Members or former members of law enforcement, the military, or a person who holds or has held a concealed carry permit in good standing in another state also satisfies the training requirement provision.

Next, once a person obtains a permit, they must adhere to specific guidelines and restrictions within the new law. The permit itself will be valid for five years and could be suspended or revoked by the DOJ for any violation of the permit or the law. Felons and anyone restricted by the Courts to possess a firearm may not receive a permit, and any permit holder convicted of a felony or restricted by the Courts to possess a firearm will have their permit revoked or suspended. Permit holders can and will be restricted as to where they may carry a firearm, which also applies to those who openly carry a firearm.

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The list of places where a person may not carry a firearm, openly or concealed, is lengthy, as it considers many public safety concerns. Those places include law enforcement agencies, municipal, county, state, or federal courthouses, correctional facilities and mental health institutions, beyond the security checkpoint in an airport, or any other place or event where notification has been provided stating weapons are not allowed. The requirements of such notification are a posted sign at least five inches by seven inches in size and prominently placed and visible at the entrances of the locale.

Finally, the prohibition on carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school is revised. Under the new law, an individual with a valid permit may carry a firearm while concealed within the 1,000 foot zone, so long as they are not on the actual school grounds or inside the school itself. There are certainly more conditions and issues relating to the law, and if you would like more detailed information, please visit the Home page of my Web site at www.senatorkedzie.com and look for the 'Frequently Asked Questions' icon.

Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or online at www.senatorkedzie.com.

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