MADISON, Wis. - A Republican-backed proposal to allow Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit is drawing opposition from at least one Republican member of the state Senate.
Right now, Wisconsin gun owners who pass a background check, can open carry, but to conceal carry, a gun owner needs to pay a fee and complete a training class to obtain a license.
Republican State Representative Mary Felzkowski from Irma and Republican State Senator David Craig from the Town of Vernon, introduced the "right to carry bill". It would eliminate the licensing procedure.
According to Rep. Felzkowski, "I think the biggest thing that people have to realize is that we're talking about expanding the rights for legal background checked gun owners. I feel it's expanding the rights of law abiding citizens and I think that is something we should always do."
The bill would also allow for legal gun owners to leave their weapons in their vehicles at buildings like schools and offices when they're prohibited from carrying them inside.
"We are not taking away any rights of posting for local units of government, schools, universities, or private land owners. They still have the right to post their buildings and grounds," adds Rep. Felzkowski.
The idea is being met with mixed reaction.
Rep. Amanda Stuck, a Democrat from Appleton says, "It's a little concerning to see a proposal coming forward to take anyway any sort of requirements for any sort of training and sort of permitting."
Even republican lawmakers are split on the idea. Sen. Luther Olsen says he opposes the bill that was circulated Tuesday for co-sponsors. Olsen says it's important for people wanting to carry concealed weapons to get firearm safety training. He also opposes changes under the bill that would allow concealed weapons on school grounds that don't prohibit them.
But, Rep. Jim Steineke believes the bill is simply reaffirming a right. He says, "I don't think there's much of a difference between the current system of conceal carry permits and what we will have under this bill."
Sen. Roger Roth, a republican, is undecided. He tells Action 2 News, "I'm not necessarily opposed to that, I just want to sit down and talk with my local law enforcement, just to understand what their concerns might be before I publicly stake out a position in support or in opposition to this."
In a statement to Action 2 News, Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas said, "We all value our constitutional rights, but our founders also made it clear that they were not unrestrained rights. Legislation like this, in a time when we continue to see random and impulsive acts of mass murder like we experienced this past week in the Wausau area, only makes Wisconsin less safe. Police Officers, first responders, and our medical professionals all too often are dealing with tragedies that occur because of the accidental discharges of firearms or impulsive acts by those who are in crisis. To eliminate the required training to carry concealed, to make it easier to possess firearms on school property, to allow guns in bars as long as you are not consuming alcohol, to allow the possession of "Tasers", along with other parts of this bill should concern all of us and not just law enforcement."