By Shereen Siewert
MADISON – Carrying a hidden weapon would no longer require a license or training under sweeping GOP-backed legislation unveiled Tuesday in Madison.
The so-called “Right to Carry” act would also allow concealed carry permit holders to bring firearms onto school property and other areas where guns are now banned. Under Wisconsin law, illegally bringing a firearm onto school property is a felony punishable by more than 3 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. The bill comes six years after the state legalized concealed weapons. Today, more than 300,000 Wisconsin residents have active licenses, according to state data.
Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) and Rep. Pat Snyder (R-Schofield) have not yet responded to requests for comment on their support or opposition to the act.
Senator David Craig (R-Town of Vernon) and Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) are co-sponsoring the legislation.
“Under this bill, if you are legally allowed to own a handgun, you can carry it concealed – no license, no fees, no government hoops to jump through,” said Representative Felzkowski.
Under current law, anyone carrying a concealed weapon is required to obtain a license and take a training course. The proposed bill would do away with the license requirement altogether for someone wanting to carry a hidden firearm.
In schools that permit carrying concealed weapons, the bill would allow only license holders to legally bring them onto the grounds or into buildings. But the proposal includes a newly created permit that does not require any firearm training to obtain. The bill also would allow parents to bring firearms in their cars while picking up or dropping off students.
The proposal drew immediate fire from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Past attempts to allow firearms on school grounds have been met with strong opposition from the law enforcement community as well as school officials.
The new measure, backed by Second Amendment gun rights advocates, would make Wisconsin the 13th state to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit, according to the National Rifle Association. North Dakota last week became the most recent state to pass such a law.