The introduction of a new bill which would allow citizens to carry concealed weapons without the requirement of a permit has sparked debate and controversy in the state Legislature.
The bill, introduced Tuesday, would allow licensed concealed carry permit holders to carry guns into places where guns are currently banned, such as in schools, unless a sign prohibits them.
The Right to Carry Act aims “to remove barriers to the exercise of a constitutional right and simplifies the law,” the bill’s authors said in a joint statement.
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State Rep. David Craig, R-Big Bend and state Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, introduced the bill.
“If you decide to carry a weapon to protect yourself or your family, you should be able to do so easily — without bureaucratic hurdles and without cost,” Craig said in a the statement.
The new bill will provide more flexibility and freedom in personal defense, Felzkowski said in the statement. She said the bill looks to empower people to decide the best way to defend themselves.
Opposition from Democrats, including state Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, began almost immediately after the bill was introduced.
“The authors of the bill put forward extreme provisions that go beyond even constitutional carry by allowing guns in schools, secure mental health facilities and police stations, while placing the burden on these facilities to protect citizens,” Barca said in a statement.
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The bill will create confusion and not provide clarity on where weapons will be allowed, Barca said.
State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said in a statement Wisconsin should focus on making communities safer, by creating strong background checks, for example.
Legislation requiring background checks currently has support from 85 percent of voters in the state, he added.
“We have the solutions and public support to make our communities safer,” Larson said. “Unfortunately, Republicans are not willing to stand up to rich gun manufacturers looking for profits at any costs — even our kids’ safety.”