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A Republican bill to expand Wisconsinites’ ability to carry concealed firearms without a permit received a hearing on Wednesday in which GOP lawmakers and gun rights advocates described the measure as reasonable while Democrats stayed mostly quiet.
Senate Bill 619 is part of a larger package of legislation brought by Republican legislators and the lobbying group Hunter Nation. The bill would allow legal gun owners to carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin without a license to do so. But the bill would also prevent local governments from prohibiting weapons on mass transit and allow people to carry weapons while operating an all-terrain vehicle.
In the hearing at the Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry, only supporters of the bill spoke but a few groups registered in opposition to the bill.
“This bill is very simple, very straightforward,” Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), one of the bill’s co-authors, said. “It lets you put a jacket on, put your gun in your purse, you know, it’s just that simple.”
Sharing information about other states that have passed similar laws, Wisconsin state director for the National Rifle Association Scott Jones said that there hasn’t been an effect on gun crimes when permitless carry bills have been signed into law.
“Contrary to popular myth, states enacting permitless carry do not devolve into the wild, wild West,” Jones said. “We’re not seeing saloon shootouts in the 21 states that have passed permitless carry. Thank goodness for that.”
The only pushback from a Democrat during the hearing came when Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) noted that gun crimes have been going up in parts of the state.
Most of the broader package of bills the concealed carry measure is a part of has already passed the Senate, but are likely headed to a veto from Gov. Tony Evers.
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