Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, has written legislation that would ban citizens from carrying concealed weapons in the Capitol. The legislation is aimed at changing part of the concealed carry legislation signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in July 2011.
It is simple — guns should not be allowed in the same building as our lawmakers. What could anyone think is waiting for them in the Capitol that threatens their life or immediate personal safety?
The Capitol is one of the most well-protected buildings in our state and there is absolutely no reason that anyone — citizen, employee or legislator — would need to bring a gun there. They would only be asking for trouble.
The Capitol has its own police force that constantly ensures the safety and peace of mind that legislators require to effectively govern this state. Who in their right mind could possibly believe that guns will be a useful tool to have in our Capitol?
Under current law, the only places that ban concealed weapons are law enforcement offices, prisons, jails, courthouses, secure mental health facilities and areas of airports beyond security checkpoints. In fact, our state’s prisons and jails are more secure from gun violence than our Capitol.
What is more disturbing than the fact that concealed weapons are permitted inside the marble walls of “Our House” is the fact that under current rules passed by the 2013-2014 Wisconsin State Assembly, guns are still permitted in the gallery of the Assembly.
Yes, the gallery, where at certain times the entire governing body of our state convenes to listen to the governor’s biennial budget address. It is absolute insanity to believe that someone could take a gun into the Assembly gallery, a high perch with an open view, while every lawmaker in the state is seated no more than 200 feet away from said individual.
The situation becomes even more ridiculous when one compares what is banned in the Assembly gallery to what is allowed. Actions or objects banned from the gallery include bags, briefcases, using cellphones, eating, drinking and reading a newspaper. So, heads up, the action you’re engaging in right now is apparently more dangerous and controversial than carrying a gun to a location just above many an elected official’s place of business.
Look, we love guns in this country. I get it — how could anyone overlook this fact — but come on, let’s have a little common sense about where these weapons are going to be of practical use. Nobody, except an officer of the law, needs to have a weapon of any kind inside our Capitol. And while certain legislators love to revel in the dream that some patriotic citizen will stop a tragedy from our occurring in the heart of Madison, the law proposed by Risser would prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring.
This is the place where our laws are made, and the people we have chosen to represent us should not work in fear of gun violence. This is what should concern people the most — our lawmakers need to be accountable to their constituents and to the people of Wisconsin, and they should not have to be concerned they may be shot for making a decision if some gun-crazed fool disapproves.
Everybody deserves the peace of mind of knowing they are not going to be subject to gunfire at the workplace — especially when said workplace is our Capitol. This legislation is common sense and it is responsible, and I’ll end by asking if anybody, anybody at all, can explain to me why the hell anyone would need to bring a gun into the Capitol.
Jared Mehre ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science, sociology and legal studies.