Recently, Wisconsin legislators finally reached a compromise and voted for the new state budget, ending a four-month deadlock. Even though this breakthrough is highly significant, we mustn’t forget the Legislature’s failure to reach a compromise on some comparably less significant issues, one of which has appeared time and again on the Legislature’s agenda: concealed carry gun laws. Despite its compromise on the budget, the Legislature’s failure to reach a compromise on this issue is bewildering. When a friend of mine first explained Wisconsin gun laws to me, he portrayed the ban on concealed carry as one of the reasons behind Wisconsin’s relatively low crime rate. However, just as I don’t believe that the absence of a terrorist attack in the United States in the last six years is a result of the "War on Terror," it’s hard to believe that the absence of crime is proof that a policy is working. A ban on concealed carry — which might make it harder for criminals to acquire weapons — isn’t going to stop a person bound on breaking the law from breaking yet another one. All a ban on concealed carry does is create a false sense of security that is all too often shattered by a tragedy similar to the massacre at Virginia Tech (which had a complete ban on firearms) and prevents law abiding citizens from defending themselves in such situations. We also can’t forget that if we allow people to carry concealed weapons, the likelihood of them falling into the wrong hands increases. Groups supporting concealed carry claim if the existing criteria must be satisfied by a person applying for a permit, the risks of guns falling into the wrong hands would diminish. This is simply not the case. The proposed criteria include age restrictions, background checks, legal citizenship, gun safety classes and mental stability. However, there are several fundamental flaws with these limitations, including the fact that the state may not ask individuals why they are applying for the permit and that it fails to measure the capability of the individuals in handling firearms. The most troubling aspect of the proposal put forth by pro-concealed carry groups is that once implemented, this law would be a "shall-issue" law. This means that if individuals meet all criteria for the permit, the state cannot, under any circumstances, withhold it from them. The contrasted is a "may-issue" law giving a supervising body the right to withhold a permit from a qualified person at its discretion. Under such a law, the state would have the ability to question the motives behind an application and prevent people who meet the criteria from getting a permit if they are considered potential threats to others. Likewise, a flaw in the original proposal is that it would have required Wisconsin to recognize out-of-state permits, regardless of any differences in the requirements for the criteria. This would create a huge loophole, through which unqualified individuals can easily obtain a permit from another state with more lenient requirements and have the right to carry their concealed weapons in Wisconsin. However, while this particular version of concealed carry law has its problems, similar legislation can be executed with successful results. Last year, I studied at the University of Utah, where the state Legislature has allowed permit holders to carry their guns on college campuses since fall 2006. Even though the school administration made a point to assure students it will aggressively fight this decision, students appeared unalarmed by the new law. Not a single violent crime involving a firearm has occurred on campus since the implementation of the new law. While it has been a relatively short time, this does go to show that it is simply untrue that allowing concealed carry on campuses will lead to an increase in violent crime. This is not a simple issue, regardless of how some groups on either side try to paint it as a black-and-white issue. Wisconsin legislators from both sides of the aisle must overcome their unwillingness to compromise and try to reach a solution that satisfies both sides. While proponents of the concealed carry law argue they have a constitutional right to bear arms, we must remember that constitutional rights afforded to Americans come with some limiting conditions. The Second Amendment should be treated no differently. Similar to driving, concealed carry permits should be issued to those who qualify and be revocable when misused. This would also mean that people aren’t guaranteed a permit and will have to work for it. Once the state Legislature reaches this solution, Wisconsin can go on to address more important issues such as unemployment rates, health care and the public school system — just as Gov. Jim Doyle said it should in a statement after he vetoed a concealed carry bill in January 2006. If our state legislators were able to reach an agreement on an issue so divisive and convoluted as our state budget, they should have no problem finding similar compromise on concealed carry. Ammar Al Marzouqi ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in computer engineering.