Legislation that would have allowed some citizens to carry concealed weapons was stopped by Senate Democrats Tuesday.
Senate Republicans have accused Senate Democrat leaders of arbitrarily enforcing Senate rules to block a motion that could have lead to a floor vote of the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala, D-Madison, said in the Wisconsin State Journal that the concealed carry bill would have ended Wisconsin’s 130-year ban on carrying weapons without adequate consideration. Chvala said crime rates in Wisconsin are lower than other states that do have concealed carry laws.
The bill, also know as the Personal Protection Act, would have forced county sheriffs to issue licenses to law-abiding citizens who completed a training program and passed a background check. Under the bill, concealed weapons would still have been illegal on government property, including jails, schools and police departments. Concealed weapons would also have been forbidden at taverns, athletic events and airports.
Sen. Dave Zien, R-Eau Claire, told supporters who gathered after session in the Senate chambers that the bill would have been passed if it had not been blocked by procedure.
Supporters of the bill accused Chvala of hindering rights that are provided under the Second Amendment.
“Once again the Senate democratic leadership shows their true colors,” said Rep. Mark Pettis, R-Town of La Follette. “In the past four years the concealed weapons issue [has] seen three bills, eight public hearings in both houses, three committee votes and two votes by the full Assembly; this issue has had more thorough consideration than some constitutional amendments.”
Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Town of Norway, said he was shocked by the procedural moves used by the state Senate.
“Quite honestly, I can’t believe the procedural claim tactics that Senate Democrats resorted to in order to prevent a vote on this important piece of legislation,” Gunderson said.
Gunderson said he considers the public hearings adequate consideration.
“The only place where this legislation was not given full consideration was in the state Senate,” he said. “Assembly Bill 675 is similar to laws already in place in 33 other states across the nation, which work to deter crime.”
According to FBI data, states that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24 percent lower total violent crime rate, a 19 percent lower homicide rate and a 39 percent lower robbery rate when compared with other states.
Wisconsin is one of six states that does not have concealed carry law.