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Posted: 10/25/2003 5:31:32 AM EDT

Senate OKs concealed weapons
11:10 PM 10/24/03
Phil Brinkman State government reporter


The GOP-run state Senate voted Friday to let citizens carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin for the first time in 130 years, tossing aside dozens of Democratic amendments that would have strictly limited where such weapons could be carried. <

Republicans said the proposed law is already one of the most restrictive in the country. They resisted any substantive changes to the version adopted by the Legislature's budget committee earlier this week. <

The bill, adopted on a bipartisan 24-8 vote, including six Democratic votes, now goes to the Republican-led Assembly, where it is expected to pass by a similar margin. <

But a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle said the governor will veto the measure, setting up an override fight. <

Backers said the bill puts Wisconsin on a par with 45 other states that allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and others, and said the measure will cause crime rates in the state to drop. <

"Today, we have people with criminal backgrounds that regularly practice conceal carry," said Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer, R-West Bend. "It's time that we have a balance of law-abiding citizens out there protecting our communities." <

Opponents painted a different picture, of unbalanced individuals settling petty disputes with guns, and shoot-outs in crowded theaters. <

"Not to sound dramatic .

.
. but in some cases people are going to die because of this," said Senate Minority Leader Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton. <
Senators tore through 56 proposed amendments to the bill, in marked contrast to the previous two days when the body was paralyzed by personal attacks after a floor fight Wednesday night on an unrelated measure. <

Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer, R-West Bend, lifted limits on debate the Republican leadership had imposed after that blowup. Democrats responded to the goodwill gesture by keeping their comments brief and on point. <

Under the bill (SB214), citizens with a clean criminal record can apply for a concealed weapons permit. To be eligible, applicants must complete a firearms training or safety course, must not have been found mentally ill or addicted to drugs or alcohol, and must pass a background check. <

Although the bill allows license holders to carry weapons most places, including the state Capitol, it prohibits them in many others, including schools, university buildings and courthouses. <

Churches, synagogues and other places of worship also would be exempt, as would hospitals, child-care centers and domestic abuse shelters, among others. But weapons could be allowed in those places if the establishments decide to allow them. <

Democrats sought to keep the ban on weapons at a number of other venues, including nursing homes, banks, restaurants and entertainment facilities. But Republicans refused any additional exemptions. <

Opponents of the bill were incredulous that Republicans would not exempt the state Capitol. <

"We should be free to communicate to our colleagues our honest feelings on things without the fear that someone up in the stands will take a pot shot at us," said Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison. <

Sen. Dave Zien, R-Eau Claire, the bill's chief sponsor in the Senate, said other states have not had a problem with license holders shooting up their statehouses. <

After the bill passed, Doyle announced he would join Project ChildSafe, a national gun-safety advocacy group, next week in launching a program to distribute 465,000 free gunlocks to state residents. <



www.madison.com/wisconsinstatejournal/local/59728.php


Gun veto override is called unlikely
11:10 PM 10/24/03
Tom Sheehan State government reporter


Republicans who control the Legislature won't have enough votes to override a likely veto of a concealed weapons bill passed by the Senate Friday, Senate Democratic Leader Jon Erpenbach predicted. <

Six Senate Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of Senate Bill 214, which would make it legal for citizens to carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin for the first time in more than 130 years. <

Some of those Democrats will change their votes to support the governor if there's a veto override attempt as supporters of the bill have threatened, Erpenbach said. <

But switching votes to support the governor, or "putting a vote in each pocket" is politically risky for Senate Democrats, said Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer, R-West Bend. <

Just one of the six Democrats, Sen. Roger Breske, Eland, was willing to take a position on a possible veto override Friday. Breske said he'd vote to override the governor, and he predicted a close vote. Other Democrats said they'd wait to see if the bill is changed in the Assembly and how the governor reacts before taking a position. <

Overriding a governor's veto requires a two-thirds majority vote in each the Senate and the Assembly but hasn't happened in more than 20 years. <

Gov. Jim Doyle already has withstood five veto override attempts this legislative session. <

Doyle will veto the bill if it gets to his desk, despite changes made since its introduction, said Dan Leistikow, a spokesman for the governor. <

"Nothing has changed. They've played a lot of games with it, but the bill is fundamentally flawed," Leistikow said. Sen. Dave Zien, who introduced the bill, said Republicans would find enough votes to override Doyle. <

Republicans who control the Senate 18-15, would need at least four Democrats to join them, if Republicans remain united. In the Assembly, which is controlled by Republicans 59-40, they'd need to recruit at least seven Democrats. <

The first chance the Assembly could vote on the bill is Nov. 7, the next regularly scheduled floor period, said Michelle Arbiture, and aide to Assembly Majority Leader Steven Foti, R-Oconomowoc. <

An override would have to clear the Senate first because that's where the bill originated, although a matching bill (AB 444) has worked its way through an Assembly committee. <

Doyle would have six days to act on the bill once the bill is sent to his desk. All bills from the current legislative session have to be sent to the governor by Dec. 11, although Senate Republicans could try to force the issue sooner. Democrats could be less susceptible to campaign criticism from pro-gun candidates and lobby groups if they record a vote in favor of the bill and rely on the governor to veto it. <

Zien said four former senators who didn't support a concealed weapons bill last session lost elections. <

"The only thing they had in common is they were against concealed carry," Zien said of three Democrats and one Republican defeated last fall. <

Republicans won't be shy about pointing out Democrats who switch their votes, said Assembly Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo. <

"If you can try to fool the public by having a vote (in favor of concealed carry), you better watch out," Gard said. <

Sen. Mark Meyer, D-La Crosse, said he decided to vote for concealed carry despite concerns about a provision that would require shop owners to post signs and orally inform gun owners if guns aren't allowed on a property. <

Meyer, who faces re-election in 2004, said he was convinced by arguments that concealed carry legislation helps reduce crime rates but he wasn't ready to say if he'd vote to override the governor. <

"This is one of those issues where my phone will ring no matter what I do," Meyer said. <



www.madison.com/wisconsinstatejournal/local/59729.php

Anyone else find any reactions to the Senate passage?
Link Posted: 10/25/2003 2:32:25 PM EDT
"We should be free to communicate to our colleagues our honest feelings on things without the fear that someone up in the stands will take a pot shot at us," said Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison.

They best keep their tyranny to a minimum then.
God forbid the 2nd Amendment keep the gov't in check, i thought it was only put in the constitution for duck hunting.
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