Wisconsin‘s concealed carry law isn’t even a month old, but thousands of your friends and neighbors already have permission to pack heat and they’re buying up the hardware to do it.
Wisconsin became the 49th state to allow residents to carry concealed weapons this month. Questions about liability still linger, but gun sales have increased across the state and the state Justice Department has been deluged with so many permit requests it’s already scrambling to keep up.
“Long time coming,” said Matt Slavik, 58, of Brookfield. He hand-filed applications for himself and his wife at the Justice Department’s Capitol office on the morning of Nov. 1, the first day the new law was in effect. He said he got permit No. 20 in the mail two days later; his wife got No. 86 a day after him. “It’s been wonderful, just to put the sidearm on as I start the day. I just keep it underneath my shirt and nobody knows. It’s very comfortable.”
The National Rifle Association had pushed concealed carry legislation in Wisconsin for most of the last decade but kept running into former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle‘s veto. Republicans took control of the Legislature and the governor’s office last year, though, and made concealed carry one of their top priorities. Gov. Scott Walker finally signed a bill this summer.
Under the law, state residents 21 or older who pass a background check and can prove they have taken firearms training can obtain a permit to carry concealed. Private property and business owners can choose whether to allow concealed weapons.
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In the four weeks since the law took effect, gun sales have jumped. The Justice Department’s handgun hotline, a number gun sellers can call to initiate background checks on would-be gun buyers, had received 7,355 calls between Nov. 1 and Monday; the line has averaged about 6,550 calls per month throughout the year. The record for monthly calls is 7,859.
Roger Wendling, owner of Monsoor’s Sport Shop in La Crosse, estimates he’s seen a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in handgun sales this month. Some of the more popular models have been .38-caliber Sig Sauers and Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolvers, both small, snub-nosed weapons that are easy to hide.
About 70 percent of the concealed carry clientele have been women, he said. They’ve leaned toward revolvers with laser sights and handbags with special compartments for hidden weapons, he said.
Jim Clark, manager of Central Wisconsin Firearms in Wausau, estimated his handgun sales have increased at least 20 percent over the last month, with customers going with small models such .38-calibers and 9-millimeters.
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“Most of them, it just tends to be they want that added protection,” he said.
The state Justice Department, meanwhile, is wading through tens of thousands of permit requests. As of Tuesday, the agency had received 44,443 applications, approved 13,085 and issued 12,708 permits.
The agency had rejected about 3,000 requests, said Brian O’Keefe, administrator of DOJ’s Law Enforcement Services Division. The reasons have varied, from not being a Wisconsin applicant to missing basic application information like date of birth or failing to enclose the $50 application fee.
More than 400 applicants tried to use an out-of-state concealed carry permit as proof of training but failed to include a form confirming their permit was valid, O’Keefe said. About 540 applicants didn’t include sufficient training documentation, such as not including the name of their instructor, he added.
Percolating beneath it all are questions about business owners’ liability.
The law grants immunity to property owners who allow concealed weapons in their establishments, but does not address the issue for property owners who bar them. That omission has given rise to a legal theory that owners who ban concealed weapons could be liable for injuries someone suffers in a shoot-out because the owners prevented the wounded from defending themselves.
- House Approves Concealed Firearm Permit Bill (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)
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- GOP notches concealed-carry victory (politico.com)
- Oklahoma’s New CareerTech handgun law praised (newsok.com)
- Liberty University Reverses Campus Gun Ban (huffingtonpost.com)
- Wisconsin GOP Eliminates 4-Hour Minimum Training For Concealed Carry Gun Holders (thinkprogress.org)
- Coloradans Are Applying For Concealed Carry Permits In Record Numbers (thinkprogress.org)
- More Coloradans Than Ever Are Packing Heat (libertycrier.com)
- Colorado concealed-carry permits see dramatic increase in 2013 (denverpost.com)