Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Allow conceal, carry for safety

Imagine yourself passing a stranger on the street, knowing that he or she could be carrying a concealed weapon.

If that scenario makes you feel a little uneasy, consider this one: You are walking down the same street, but now the only people that could possibly be concealing guns are criminals. This is a scenario that Wisconsin’s citizens face everyday.

While the thought of ordinary citizens walking around with concealed weapons may seem radical, it is widely practiced across the United States. Have you ever traveled out of Wisconsin? Chances are that the states you have visited, lived in or originated from have a conceal-and-carry law on the books, whether you were conscious of it or not. In fact, Wisconsin is one of just five states that do not issue conceal-and-carry permits.

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Our state’s legislators are working hard to change that. They want to make sure that all citizens, not just lawbreakers, have the opportunity to defend themselves and their loved ones.

At last week’s public hearing, citizens from all over the state voiced their overwhelming support for Wisconsin’s Personal Protection Act (PPA).

This bill is designed for responsible citizens who will not risk breaking the law even to protect themselves and their families. Hopefully, they soon won’t have to. This conceal-and-carry bill will give those law-abiding citizens a means to protect themselves.

While I realize that carrying a gun may not be for everyone, the beauty of this bill is that all citizens can reap its benefits, not just those that choose to carry a concealed weapon. Under Wisconsin’s current 130-year concealed-gun ban, only criminals carry concealed firearms. These individuals can see at a glance which victims they can overpower because they know that law-abiding citizens, specifically women, the disabled and the elderly, will not have the proper means to defend themselves. The Personal Protection Act will cause attackers to second-guess their target before assaulting a seemingly defenseless person.

No person should have to fear for his or her safety. For the first time, violent offenders may be the ones who are afraid.

How will the PPA ensure that conceal-and-carry permits stay out of the hands of criminals?

There are a number of requirements that a person must meet in order to be granted a conceal-and-carry license. First, an applicant must be at least 21 years of age, a non-felon and found not to be incompetent or disabled in a way that he or she cannot safely operate a firearm. He or she cannot be drug- or alcohol-dependent, mentally ill, or have been found guilty of violent misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct or domestic abuse. In addition, each applicant must pass a background check to search for federal, state and local offenses, as well as successfully complete specified firearms training or safety courses.

While the PPA is a broad bill that would allow citizens to protect themselves in a great many settings, certain places are exempt from this bill because of the inherently precarious environment resulting when a gun is added to the equation. Additionally, state or federal law may prohibit the carrying of a weapon in some of these locations. Prohibited conceal-and-carry places will include taverns, police stations, prisons, courthouses, jails, schools, athletic events, airports and other settings where carrying is prohibited by state or federal law.

Some additional places have been proposed for exemption from the bill. However, by extending the exemption list, much of the PPA’s value is diminished. By exempting a broad range of settings from the bill, we also exempt citizens from defending themselves in such places.

A few opponents of the Personal Protection Act claim that passing this measure will result in increased shootings, gun violence and crime overall — basically a return to the “Wild West.” However, these same claims have been made before passage of similar bills in other states, and, to date, zero of the 45 states with conceal-and-carry laws have repealed them. In fact, 1999 crime statistics from the FBI show that overall violent crime, homicide, robbery and aggravated assault are lower in states with instituted conceal-and-carry laws than in those that do not have such laws.

Yes, a person’s knee-jerk reaction to this bill might be that it does not promote public safety. However, all evidence points to the converse. We’ve seen it work in 45 out of 45 states. PPA opponents base their arguments on gut feelings, not research and facts.

For 130 years, Wisconsin citizens have been denied lawful means to protect themselves, their family and their loved ones from violent attackers. The Personal Protection Act represents an exciting opportunity for our state to increase public safety and give some power and control back to its citizens.

Nicole Marklein ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in political science.

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