EDITORIAL: Carrying concealed goes to extremesLike teenagers who just started to notice the attractions of the opposite sex, a lot of Wisconsinites have gone crazy over guns lately.
Like teenagers who just started to notice the attractions of the opposite sex, a lot of Wisconsinites have gone crazy over guns lately.
Nov. 1 was the first day people could apply for concealed weapons permits. You would have thought it was a Black Friday sale.
That day out-of-towners drove to Madison to apply for their permits in person rather than mailing them. By late afternoon almost 150 applications had been received at the Department of Justice office.
By 9 a.m., Nov. 1, more than 80,000 people had downloaded permit application forms from the DOJ’s website. By noon, about 800,000 people had logged onto the website.
DOJ officials predict up to 200,000 people will apply for permits in the first few months. Using that estimate, you can expect that roughly five of every 100 adults will be packing a sidearm in a holster or purse.
Then when we thought things couldn’t get any more bizarre, they did.
Wisconsin’s Catholic bishops said they won’t order their churches to ban concealed weapons. But the bishops asked their pastors to remember that the church stresses non-violent resolutions of conflicts.
Both the state Senate and Assembly will allow lawmakers to carry concealed weapons on their floors. The Assembly, which doesn’t let visitors bring cameras into its gallery, will also let them carry concealed weapons.
And under the new law you can bring a concealed weapon into a tavern — if you’re not drinking. We suspect folks will mind that restriction about as well as they obey drunken-driving laws.
Now along with the state’s permissive open carry law, which allows people to carry firearms in plain sight, those getting a concealed-carry permit can have their handgun with them nearly everywhere they go, including in cars, on college campus grounds, in parks, near school grounds and in public buildings that don’t post a no-gun policy.
Our big question is this: What is it that these new gun-toting citizens fear?
As old as we are, we can’t recall a single incident of a person in our area being shot, wounded or killed in a public place. There have been killings and gun injuries in homes and apartments, but there has been nothing to stop a homeowner from keeping a weapon.
We hope we are wrong, but it seems inevitable that more gun-carrying citizens will mean more gunshot injuries. We also fear those injured won’t be criminals but will be family members, friends and even licensed carriers themselves.
Many of us have heard pro-carry stories such as the one about the young woman who stopped at night to use a wayside restroom and was approached by a man she was sure intended to assault her. As the story goes, she pulled her gun and stopped him dead in his tracks.
We’d agree that woman was lucky on many accounts, including that the man didn’t sneak up from behind and that she conveniently had her gun ready.
But for every story like that, we could provide 10 about people accidentally shot by themselves, a friend or family member just because a gun happened to be handy.
Concealed-carry advocates are outraged that they have to sit through four hours of training to get a permit. If we thought it would do any good, we’d suggest a few hours of training in impulse control and anger management.
We’ve heard the arguments, but we are still not sure why an ordinary person would feel the need to carry a gun in public.
One last warning: Be careful on the roads. The driver you annoy might fight back with more than a hand gesture.