Local gun rights activists are up in arms about a state policy that bans “weapons of any kind” on city buses, including those operated by Madison Metro Transit.
In response to Madison Transit’s enforcement of the state law, pro-gun group Wisconsin Carry announced recently they intend to file a lawsuit against Madison Transit challenging the policy.
Madison Transit spokesperson Mick Rusch said in a statement it is in the best interest of passengers not to allow guns on buses.
Nik Clark, the president of the Milwaukee-based organization, Wisconsin Carry, strongly disagreed.
“The reason that we are pursuing this action is because it is taking away people’s right to carry,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t file if I didn’t think we wouldn’t win.”
Wisconsin Carry, founded in 2009, has thousands of members across the state of Wisconsin and in every county, Clark said. He said the group is the largest non-affiliate membership-based gun rights group in Wisconsin.
Clark said Wisconsin Carry’s mission as an organization is to expand the number of people being able to carry guns and protect people’s right to carry them.
“We think that the policy is outside state law,” Clark said. “People’s right to self-defense is being foreclosed wherever they go because they can’t carry their weapons on the bus.”
He said a gun is the best tool to protect oneself from a criminal or predator and self-defense is a “basic both civil and human right.”
Because Madison Transit policy does not allow guns or any other form of a weapon on city buses, Wisconsin Carry is taking the matter into its own hands by filing a lawsuit, Clark said.
The reasoning behind filing the lawsuit, according to Clark, is because many of the people who ride Madison Transit live in low-income areas.
He said the main issue is not necessarily having guns on buses, but that these people will not be able to have their gun or other weapon of self-defense if a situation arises when they are walking to and from the bus.
“People are in danger when they are walking home from the bus, to work and to places they go when they aren’t on the bus,” Clark said. “There is always a risk of someone being attacked. It is our constitutional right to carry a gun or weapon other places than the bus.”
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said Metro Transit’s policy should not be changed.
Resnick added he does not think firearms are necessary while riding a Metro bus.
“I think it’s an awful idea,” Resnick said. “I stand by Metro Transit’s policy and am confident that we are providing safety to our city and making Madison one of the safest communities in the nation.”
Clark said he is hoping to file the lawsuit within the next few weeks.
He said he believes he will be successful, as the city courts do not tend to take state laws as “seriously” as some may think.
“Madison courts don’t seem to strictly adhere to state law,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if at the appeals level we aren’t successful, but I am confident we will win in the end.”