Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ignoring rise in gun crimes statewide, Wisconsin Republicans seek to remove requirements for concealed carry permits

It's no exaggeration to say that there's a public health crisis when it comes to gun violence in Wisconsin (the numbers prove it)

Leave it to the Republicans in Wisconsin to propose a dangerous gun bill while I’m trying to relax on vacation.

The new bill would allow anyone who owns a gun to conceal their weapon in public places — without a permit — including in schools and other sensitive areas.

Eliminating the permitting process would take away an important standard meant to keep families safe in Wisconsin: such classes ensure those seeking a permit are given proper guidance to be responsible with their privileges.

Furthermore, allowing guns into sensitive areas (like on school grounds) would mean allowing dangerous weapons to be present mere feet from your loved ones.

Republicans tend to think concealed carry will make our state safer. In fact, the idea that “deterrence” would stave off crime — that "would-be" criminals would think twice before attempting to do harm against law-abiding citizens — was a concept Republicans used to sell the idea of concealed carry in the first place.

In actuality, crime has gone up significantly in the years since concealed carry became law in Wisconsin. Violent crime rates have risen by nearly 30 percent across the state overall. And the murder rate is up by 172 percent in rural counties alone since that time, meaning it’s not just a problem for cities. Deterrence has failed completely, and although concealed carry may not be responsible for the rise in crime itself, it has not been a reliable method to lessen crime over the course of the past six years.

It’s numbers like these that make recent comments by Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) seem less hyperbolic and more realistic: “Gun violence in Wisconsin isn’t a joke, it’s a public health crisis,” she said, adding that “This bill is irresponsible and dangerous, and quite frankly, defies logic.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) agrees. “Allowing anyone to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public without any safety training or a simple background check is completely irresponsible,” she explained.

Indeed it is. Concealed carry permits ensure those seeking to exercise the privilege are doing so only after they have received proper safety training. Removing that standard means allowing those without this knowledge to carry a gun wherever and whenever they want.

Wisconsin won’t see less crime as a result — in fact, if trends hold true, and if this bill passes, we could see devastating consequences instead.

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