By: Kimberly Drake
Wisconsin has a rich history of outdoor recreation and is a mecca for hunting and fishing. What it didn’t have for years, though, was strong Second Amendment backing from the state government.
Wisconsin’s dismal gun rights track record changed, though, when Scott Walker (R) was elected governor in November 2010. Current state senator Tom Tiffany, a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, ran for the Wisconsin State Assembly at the same time and won, setting the stage for major changes in Wisconsin’s gun laws.
Tiffany and Walker, along with a newly elected Republican majority, quickly passed a law allowing concealed carry in the Badger State, which took effect in November 2011. The legislature also approved the crucial Castle Doctrine, which gives homeowners the right to defend themselves against intruders in their own homes without prosecution.
I talked to Sen. Tiffany recently about how Wisconsin’s gun laws have evolved and got his take on the recent events that have led to yet another gun control push by those opposed to the Second Amendment.
‘We Came a Long Way Rapidly’
“[The passage of concealed carry and Castle Doctrine] put us as one of the top states in the freedom to be able to carry,” Tiffany told Gunpowder Magazine. “We came a long way rapidly. I don’t think any other state has passed both in one session of the legislature.
“In a state that has a sporting heritage, it’s pretty unusual that we would be one of the last ones to adopt conceal carry, but Gov. [Jim] Doyle [a Democrat who preceded Walker] made it clear he was not going to support Second Amendment rights,” Tiffany said. “He was just holding back the dam that was ultimately going to break.”
‘People Didn’t Want to Open Carry’
Open carry was legal at the time concealed carry was passed, but, Tiffany said, “People didn’t want to open carry.
“The gun owners felt it would draw attention to them and make people nervous, which they didn’t want to do…Gun owners who have weapons legally have proven once again they are responsible. You do not hear stories of people with conceal carry permits going out and shooting up things. It just doesn’t happen.”
The conditions in the state capital of Madison are beginning to shift, however, as liberal lawmakers have been pushing for more gun control in the wake of recent school shootings.
“[Democratic representative Chris Taylor] is calling on Democrat candidates to join her in curbing Second Amendment rights,” Tiffany said. “There are legislators who…since the Parkland shooting, are now going public, saying we need to put additional restrictions in place, and [these efforts are] led by Chris Taylor.”
The School Safety Bill was adopted by the state in direct response to the Parkland, Florida shooting. The law allocates $100 million through the Justice Department to help schools upgrade their safety systems. There was some discussion of instituting armed guards in schools, but legislation to do so did not advance during the most recent legislative session.
Tiffany told Gunpowder Magazine that when he talked to school administrators in his district, views on teachers carrying guns in school were mixed. Some expressed concern it would take at least 15 minutes for the sheriff’s department to get to their school – much too long in an active shooter situation. Tiffany made it clear that placing armed guards in Wisconsin schools has not been ruled-out and will be a matter of debate in future legislative sessions.
‘There Have to Be Consequences’
Democrats and those favoring gun control don’t comprehend the cause of mass shootings, Tiffany says.
“The Obama administration set initiatives that were less harsh on students who commit crimes or have disciplinary problems,” Tiffany said. “…So, what do you get? There have to be consequences for actions when students are talking about shooting up members of society. It isn’t the guns that have changed – it is the people who have changed.”
Kimberly Drake is a freelance columnist from Minocqua, Wisconsin. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons