State Republicans propose bill allowing concealed carry without permit

Wisconsin residents may soon be able to carry concealed firearms without a special permit.

Wisconsin is an open carry state, which means it’s legal for gun owners to carry their handguns on them as long as they are visible. If the weapon is hidden, however, that’s illegal, unless the owner is 21 or over and has a specific concealed carry permit.

State Sen. David Craig (R-Town of Vernon) and State Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) coauthored the Right to Carry Act, which eliminates the need for a concealed carry permit.

Dennis Kramer owns Big Rooster Firearms in downtown Sparta.

“I’ve always grown up and been around firearms,” he said. “It’s something l love and have a passion for, so I figured why not, give it a shot.”

From shelves, to clocks and soda machines, the store offers plenty of places to hide your guns indoors.

But if someone is planning on concealing a firearm outside the home, he or she needs a permit, and that requires firearms safety training. Kramer said concealed carry courses are offered through his store.

However, the Republican-backed state bill would change the permit requirement.

“What in our state constitution or federal Constitution says you have to get a permit in order to carry a gun?” said Felzowski. “What current law says right now is that you can go to your local firearms store and you can purchase a handgun, pass a background check and you can wear that handgun in the open. What state law does not allow you do is put on a coat. What this law does is allow you to put on a coat without a permit.”

The bill is getting pushback from Democrats such as state Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse).

“While people have individual rights in this state to bear arms, it also comes with a responsibility for training and safety,” she said. “Permit-less carry bills would repeal that important public safety law and allow people to carry concealed guns in public without a permit or safety training.”

Regardless of whether the bill goes through, Kramer wants gun owners to be safe.

“I do still feel it’s a good idea for everybody to have some sort of training with a firearm,” he said.

The proposed bill would also loosen restrictions on bringing guns to specific places where current law prohibits it. For example, under this bill, people could get a permit and legally carry firearms on school grounds, unless the school posts notice indicating firearms are not allowed.

If this bill passes, Wisconsin will be the 13th state to pass what some call a “constitutional carry” law.