Kenosha-area lawmakers are lining up behind a recent legal opinion confirming the legality of toting unconcealed firearms in public places.
Some even say it could be an entrée to revisit the controversial issue of concealed carry in Wisconsin, though the current political winds in Madison would make that prospect appear unlikely.
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen last week issued a memo citing constitutional grounds allowing for the open carrying of firearms, so long as it is done without disturbing the peace and within specified restrictions, such as not taking a gun into a school.
Some have questioned whether that is possible in many settings, particularly in urban areas. Milwaukee authorities have said Van Hollen’s memo will not change the manner in which their officers approach people with guns.
Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, criticized the timing of Van Hollen’s opinion, but he was not about to argue with the content.
“I think the timing was poor, bringing it out right when the 10th anniversary of Columbine was out there,” Wirch said. “But I think that he’s on pretty solid legal grounds with this.”
Wirch said a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a Washington, D.C., handgun ban, coupled with a 1998 state constitutional amendment that affirmed the right to bear arms in Wisconsin, strengthen Van Hollen’s position. Wirch noted that voters approved the amendment in a statewide referendum.
Enter concealed carry, which has generated controversy in the state Capitol for years. ...