Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

The Legislature’s top two Republicans say they’ll talk over with their caucuses a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

The bill, circulated Tuesday by GOP Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Mary Felzkowski, also would eliminate the state’s school gun free zone law, though schools could still post signs on their buildings and grounds banning weapons. There’s also a federal gun free zone law.

“Senator Fitzgerald has been a strong supporter of second amendment protections,” said Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for the Senate Majority Leader. “He is reviewing Senator Craig’s bill and plans to discuss it with the caucus to determine the level of support.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he hasn’t discussed the bill with his caucus.

“But as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I’m generally supportive of it and will monitor public support as we determine our next steps,” Vos said.

The bill would still retain the current concealed carry permit lawmakers approved in 2011, which ensures holders can carry in other states with reciprocity provisions in their laws. It also called for a new “basic” concealed carry permit that would not include a training requirement, though DOJ would have to perform a background check on applicants. The “basic” permit would meet the requirements to be exempt from the federal gun free school zone laws.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said the overwhelming majority of residents believe “responsible individuals” who want to carry a concealed weapon should go through a background check and get a permit.

“Allowing anyone to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public without any safety training or a simple background check is completely irresponsible,” said Shilling, whose parents and five employees were murdered at the family’s restaurant during a 1993 robbery.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said when concealed carry was passed six years ago, “there was a clear bipartisan emphasis on proper training to make sure those with a concealed carry permit to understand the gravity and responsibilities of carrying a gun, especially in high risk facilities.” He said the proposal would strip away those measures.

Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon and a member of the Finance Committee, said he took a concealed carry training class over the weekend because he knew the bill was coming. He asked a woman in the class about allowing the carrying of concealed weapons without a license, and she objected.

“It’s important to know the concealed carry laws and what you can do and you can’t do with a gun,” Olsen said.

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, meanwhile, praised the bill with Wisconsin state liaison Scott Rausch saying, “This important piece of legislation means law-abiding gun owners will no longer have to jump through government hoops and pay fees to exercise a basic constitutional right in the way that works best for them.”

See the bill draft and a Legislative Council memo :

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