State News

As advocates fight permitless firearm bill, Walker signs separate concealed carry legislation

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Monday extending the length of concealed carry permits.

Image By: Alicia Shoberg and Alicia Shoberg

In the midst of a legislative fight over allowing people to carry concealed guns without a permit, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation Monday that makes concealed carry permits good for five years.

Senate Bill 7, authored by state Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, states that when gun owners renew a concealed carry permit, it is good for five years from when their current permit expires. Previously, permits were good for five years from the renewal date.

The new law is much less controversial than other gun legislation and passed the Assembly 92-7. Kat Kerwin, the leader of Cocks Not Glocks, a gun safety organization on UW-Madison’s campus, said Senate Bill 7 is not as significant as other firearm-related measures, but is nonetheless “another step to make it a little easier” to get a gun.

“It’s kind of not a huge deal … but gun violence is a public health crisis,” Kerwin said. “Why make it even easier to get a permit?”

Kerwin and other proponents of gun safety measures are setting their sights on preventing more drastic bills that have been introduced in the Legislature. A proposal that would end the need for permits entirely would be a huge blow to gun safety advocates if it passes.

“[Permitless carry] is just going to increase weapons on the street because it will make it so much easier for people to get access to firearms,” Kerwin said. “We’ve seen so many incidences of accidental shootings. I see this as a way violence is going to increase across Wisconsin.”

In response to the permitless carry bill, Assembly Democrats formed a coalition Monday that will advocate against gun violence. The group, called the Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety, will include clergy, physicians and members of law enforcement, according to a press release.

Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, who represents part of UW-Madison’s campus, said the coalition was formed because “too many elected officials are turning a blind eye to the problem of gun violence in all of our communities.”

“People are ahead of their legislators. Citizens from across the political spectrum are forming groups like WCGS,” Berceau said. “Sometimes it seems like the only place in Wisconsin that doesn’t exhibit common sense when it comes to gun violence is the State Capitol.”

Kerwin commended state Democrats for their work as well as all of Wisconsin’s “strong organizations” that “stand together against gun violence.”

“These groups are going to be standing with Democratic legislators. They’re going to be very vocal … and hopefully making sure permitless carry doesn’t have a chance,” Kerwin said. “I’m really excited to stand alongside them.”

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