On anniversary, concealed carry exceeds advocates' expectations

CREATED Nov 1, 2012

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MADISON - Thursday marked the one year anniversary of Wisconsin's concealed carry law taking effect.  Initially, the state had trouble keeping up with the volume of permit applications.  TODAY'S TMJ4 found gear allowing men and women to hide guns just about every imaginable place on their bodies.

Thunderwear "fits discreetly under the season's hottest fashions."  The Flashbang bra holster promises women fast, easy access to their weapon.  There are holsters disguised as belt buckles.

The online Bang Bang Boutique is making a lot of money selling concealed carry gear just for women.  Clutches for guns come in fashionable colors and prints.  There are purses under the brand name Gun Tote'n Mamas.

"You would never know, but I think there's a lot more of us out there than you would even suspect," Bang Bang Boutique owner Kim Bortz told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.

Bortz said she's seen a spike in business from Wisconsin over the last year.

"Right before the law went into effect, I started getting an uptick in orders from Wisconsin from ladies and they were buying the conceal carry holsters."

Ben Giese at the Shooters Shop in West Allis demonstrated a few of the more common ways to hide a gun.  Guns in a sling over the shoulder, tucked inside a belt, strapped to an ankle and even slipped into a pocket.

"That could be a wallet, a second cell phone, Kleenex," Giese said as he slipped a wallet-sized holster into his pocket.  "It could be a hundred things.  It comes out just like that.  I didn't even have to try."

Attorney General JB Van Hollen issued himself permit number one and says he regularly carries on the job.

"We were one of the last two states who didn't have conceal carry for law abiding citizens," Van Hollen said.  "An armed society is certainly a safer society and a better society."

There is pushback against concealed carry, including fear about gun-toting Wisconsinites actually using those hidden weapons.

"The more weapons that are on the street, the more likely they are to be used," said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now.  "There's no statistics out there, no evidence that concealed weapons make our streets safer."

As of October 31, the state had received 151,577 concealed carry applications and issued 138,664 permits.  In the first days, many waited in long lines at the State Capitol to drop of their applications.