A Republican leader in the state Assembly, in charge of maintaining order during legislative sessions, has carried a concealed gun during sessions in the Wisconsin Legislature.
Assembly Leader Pro Tempore Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, told the Associated Press Friday he has carried a concealed Glock 26, a subcompact semi-automatic gun, on the Assembly floor.
Kramer said he received a concealed carry permit before Thanksgiving and needs it because of the atmosphere in the Capitol. He said he has received threatening emails, including one calling for Jesus to return and stab him with a flaming sword.
“Have you been in the Capitol lately”? Kramer asked the Associated Press. “The saying is you don’t need a gun until you need it. I hope to go to my grave having never fired it at anything but a paper target.”
He added he is not the only legislator who carries a concealed gun in the chamber.
Kramer has found support with other members of the Assembly. Rep. David Craig, R-Vernon, said in a statement he supports Kramer and that the right to bear arms is a constitutional guarantee.
“I support the decision of any member of the legislature or any staff member or visitor to the Capitol to lawfully exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Craig said in a statement.
Mike Mikalsen, a spokesperson for Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Kramer should have the right to carry a weapon on the Assembly floor due to the concealed carry laws.
He added the Capitol police and police in general cannot always be there to protect people.
“I think Kramer’s decision is not a shock, and it should not be a shock to anyone, both in terms of safety and freedom,” Mikalsen said. “The reality is any regular citizen has the right to conceal and carry.”
Mikalsen said Republican legislators have been stalked by a group of “crazies” who have picketed outside their private homes, sent threatening letters and even followed them throughout Madison.
He pointed to the assault of Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, who a protestor doused with beer. He also said Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, has received insults from protesters, especially against his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, even in front of their children.
However, Democratic representatives questioned the need for concealed carry in the Capitol. Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, said she has never felt unsafe in the Assembly.
“I really can’t imagine why a member of the Assembly feels the need to have a gun on the floor, especially at a time when people are being taken out of the Assembly chambers for silently holding signs with pictures of the apple pie and copies of the Constitution silently,” Roys said.
Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, said while members of the Republican Party are now carrying guns in the Capitol, they ironically closed it to the public during spring protests after discovering .22-caliber bullets.
Mikalsen called it disgraceful for Democratic representatives to question why Kramer carries a gun on the floor since they have encouraged protesters.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.