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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes


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 I've been a strong supporter of concealed carry for years, but this a bad idea.

Rights are not absolute: you can't shout 'fire" in a crowded theater, for instance. And rights -- especially ones involving the carrying of a deadly weapon in public -- need to be balanced with responsibilities and public safety. In this case: it is simply a matter of common sense that we try to make sure that someone carrying a loaded weapon knows how to use it.

One listener asked: 'Don't you trust the people of Wisconsin?" Well, yes, I do, but not all of them. That's why we have laws. As Ronald Reagan said, 'Trust but verify."

Interestingly, Republicans in the legislature have passed CC bills three times (only to have them vetoed by Jim Doyle); and each one included these provisions. Until now they have never been controversial and have been among the major selling points of the bill: only law abiding citizens who have passed a background check and received gun safety training wold be able to legally carry. But now the proposal has changed... and not for the better.

In fact, the new version has turned a political winner into a political loser.

Jeff Wagner expands on the problems here.


... it's depressing to see that a fringe element of the pro-gun movement is prepared to seize defeat from the jaws of legislative victory...

Most people don't own firearms - and most firearms owners don't choose to carry a concealed weapon. Still, with these checks in place, I believe most fair-minded people see no problem with concealed carry.

Unfortunately, a small - but vocal - segment of the gun lobby is trying to get the Legislature to go beyond traditional concealed carry legislation. The so called "constitutional carry" movement claims that the government has no business regulating the possession of handguns and that people should be allowed to carry concealed weapons without any permits, any training or any government oversight. Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont and Arizona are the only States that allow possession of concealed weapons without permits.

First, "constitutional carry" is a misnomer. The 2nd Amendment is not absolute. That's why felons and the mentally ill can't legally own firearms. It's also why, as a general rule, private citizens can't own machine guns or bazookas or silencers. There simply is no "constitutional right" to carry a concealed firearm under any and all circumstances.

Second, it strikes me as being absurd to legally allow someone to carry a concealed weapon without some basic assurance that they know how to use it. After all, you wouldn't take someone who has never driven a car and send them out on the Interstate at rush hour! Why would let someone legally stick a Saturday Night Special in their pocket without some basic assurance that they know one end from the other?...

Many of us have been waiting a long time for some form of concealed carry to come to Wisconsin. A rational bill in line with the laws in most other States will undoubtedly have the support of a majority of citizens and the law enforcement community. A proposal that imposes no restrictions pretty much guarantees the end of concealed carry if and when Democrats come back into power - and paves the way for that precise thing.


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