Thank you Chair Felzkowski, and members of the Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry for holding a public hearing on SB 516. This legislation seeks to remove an unnecessary bureaucratic tripwire to some people in Wisconsin from having their concealed carry permit from being accepted.
Under current law, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is required to promulgate a rule to indicate what concealed carry licenses from other states we will accept in Wisconsin. The list is on a DOJ website1 and it is likely not well known. Until brought to my attention by constituents recently, I had forgotten Wisconsin refused to recognize concealed carry permits from 5 states entirely and only some permits from 8 other states.
Wisconsin was one of the last states to allow for the concealed carry of a firearm with the passage of 2011 Act 35. All 50 states now have a concealed carry permit process. While I was brand new to the Legislature when I voted for what became Act 35, I believe the provision about limiting out-of-state permits was meant to reassure those wary of concealed carry that Wisconsin would not be overrun by irresponsible people from other states without standards. Ten years later we can safely say this fear is not justified now, if it ever was. The selective rejection of valid concealed carry permits does not serve a public safety purpose.
The five non-reciprocity states are Oregon, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. These are all states with a higher representation of democrats in their respective governments than Wisconsin has had since Act 35. If my colleagues on the other side are to be taken at their word, democrats with the opportunity would take any action necessary to protect their states from the dangers of gun violence. Do we believe that progressive Oregon, Vermont or New Jersey would have failed to act if their concealed carry permitting process was in some way dangerous?
The cost of failing to act is the worst kind of bureaucratic hassle: arbitrary enforcement of a little-known regulation impacting a small number of people who, although small, will be highly motivated to make a decision adverse to Wisconsin based upon that bureaucratic hassle. Tourists from these states for whom the 2nd amendment matters to them may well visit somewhere else. Some people looking to buy a summer cottage in the Northwoods may choose to take their investment elsewhere because, as part-time residents, they won’t be eligible for a Wisconsin permit even though their home state permits are invalid.
This restrictive rule negatively impacts Wisconsin‘s economy and our culture of 2nd amendment freedom. I believe it is time we do away with it. Please support SB 516. Thank you.