It has been a while that I have done a post that does not deal with landlord-tenant issues that was not a Citizen Wausau front page post. I am not going to be able to do a Dr. Rent Radio Show this week (even though I pre-record the shows, I need to be in the studio at 5 PM to play the CD, and I will not be able to do that), so I thought this would be good timing for a non-landlord-tenant topic.
Let’s talk about guns for a moment, and the current discussion is on allowing for concealed carry. There are three basic camps on this issue. There is the position that it should not be allowed at all (which is the current law), there is the position that it should be allowed with no restrictions (the libertarian/republican position), and the position that it should be allowed, but require certain training and background checks (which happens to be my personal position).
I should disclose that I am not a hunter. I don’t hunt, I have no desire to hunt. Therefore, the discussion of firearms as it relates to hunting does not apply to me. Speaking of firearms, I am big fan of them. I collect military rifles and have around two dozen military rifles from all over the world that were used in WWI or WWII (with a couple even older than that). I do not shoot these weapons. I also have more modern military rifles which I do take out and target shoot from time to time, including AR-15’s, and an M-4, AK-47’s and an AK-74.
My favorite firearms are handguns. I have always liked them, and have always been much more proficient in them than rifles. During my days in the military, I did meet the minimum marksmanship qualifications with my M-16, but when shooting with pistols (at that time, the M1911 .45 Colt Automatic), I had no problem qualifying with the military designation of “Expert”. My handgun collection includes a number of pistols that are for collecting only and that I don’t shoot, including a number of pre-WWI German .25 “pocket pistols”. I also have a number of guns I do take out for target shooting. I do prefer automatics, and my two favorites are a .32 Czechoslovakian pistol, and a version of my old military side arm called a Colt Government Model 80. The reason I take them to the range is they are also the guns that I use for personal protection, they are in the house, loaded, concealed, but readily available. Concealing a weapon in my house is perfectly legal. Concealing it on my person once I leave the house is the basis of the current discussion.
Let us get to the constitutional argument, not the national constitution, but Wisconsin’s. On the Citizen Wausau post covering this topic, user “liber8r” put in his response “Article I, Section 25 amended the Wisconsin constitution in 1998 (with overwhelming support) says The people have the right to keep and bear arms for any lawful purpose.” I have not verified this statement, however knowing who “liber8r” is, I trust him as a source on things such as this.
The argument then, in Wisconsin, is that concealed carry should be allowed without restriction because anything else would be unconstitutional based on that part of our state constitution. I respectfully disagree. We have the right to “bear arms for any lawful purpose”, and I would argue that personal protection is a lawful purpose. I believe this is what allows us to open carry in Wisconsin. Although illegal to concealed carry, if I wanted to put my .44 Magnum revolver (Dirty Harry’s gun for those not familiar with firearms) in a holster on my hip and go about my daily business, I am allowed to do that. However, even though it is legal, I expect that because the right to open carry is not exercised very often, people would call the police saying there is a guy walking around with a gun, and the police would then come and investigate or otherwise harass me.
So, we can exercise our constitutional right to bear arms without concealing said arms. So, I personally (my opinion only) do not think that limiting concealed carry is a constitutional issue. Even though I personally don’t think that the constitution of Wisconsin allows me to carry a concealed weapon, I do believe that I should be afforded the ability to do so.
Basically, it is a common sense issue. If I want to carry a pistol for my personal sense of security, I should be allowed to do so, but exercising open carry draws un-needed attention to myself and the firearm. Concealed carry would solve that particular issue. Also, I should be allowed concealed carry simply because criminals do it. If criminals are likely to carry a concealed fire arm, then a properly trained, law-abiding citizen should be able to do it as well.
I do believe in a preliminary background check. Felons are not even allowed to own guns (I believe). Someone who is on the receiving end of a restraining order (not a temporary one, but one a judge has ruled on and agreed with) should not be allowed to carry concealed, in my opinion. Some one with drug or alcohol convictions (to include OWI) that do not rise to the level of felony should also not be allowed to conceal carry.
I also think that some type of training should be required. People should understand the law where they can and cannot carry, and a training session would take away the “I didn’t know I couldn’t carry it here” excuse. Also, gun safety is important. I want to know that if someone has a gun in their purse, they understand how it works, they understand how the safety works, they know how to load, unload, chamber a round, and clear the weapon without accidentally shooting themselves or others. Actually, I want to know they have actually fired the weapon before and actually hit what they were aiming at and didn’t just buy a gun, put some bullets in it, throw it in their glove compartment and called it good.
The right to bear arms in Wisconsin is a right, however to bear that arm in a concealed way, in my personal opinion, is a privilege. Having a picture ID which identifies you as a concealed carry permit holder (or having some type of concealed carry identifier on current driver’s licenses or ID’s) would then take away some of the fear that law enforcement has. If they stop a driver for speeding, they will see right away on the license that this person is allowed to conceal carry. It also tells that officer that this person has gone through some training on the safe operation of the firearm, and has gone though a preliminary background screening.
Notice, in this entire post I did not talk about the impact that concealed carry may have on the increase or decrease on crime. I also did not touch on the increase or decrease on gun violence or gun-related injuries (accidental or intentional). I did not touch on these items because there is very little consistent evidence on issues such as those. You can find empirical evidence that supports your position, no matter what position you have.
To me, it comes down to the application of common sense to allow responsible citizens to expand upon a right they already have. Of the 50 states, 48 have some type of concealed carry legislation… 48 out of 50… When 96% of the states allow something, Wisconsin (which prides itself as being “progressive”) needs to finally get on the bandwagon.