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Organizations prepare for new state concealed carry gun law

Beginning in November, those with a state license will be able to attend church and classes with a gun or knife.

Wisconsin's new Concealed Carry Law goes into effect Nov. 1.

While the law will give licensees the right to walk around in public with the weapons, there are a few places - police stations, jail, prison, county or state courthouses, municipal courtrooms in session and school grounds - that concealed weapons will not be allowed.

Applications for a concealed carry license will be available through Wisconsin's Department of Justice beginning Nov. 1. It's unknown exactly how much an application will cost, but it will not be more than $50 - up to $37 for the application and $13 for a criminal background check.

The DOJ says a person with a gun should also be prepared to show a photo I.D.

Further, it says that during any contact with police or any law enforcement officer, people with a gun or knife should say they have a concealed weapon, where it is and that they are licensed.

Knives are allowed under the new Concealed Carry Law, but not switchblades.

The law allows those licensed to carry a handgun, but not a machine gun, a short-barreled rifle or a short-barreled shotgun.

According to the law, people without a state permit can't bring a handgun into a bar. Bar owners can also, at their discretion, ban anyone from bringing a handgun inside their business.

Shop, office and store owners also have the option of keeping out licensed gun carriers. Those owners must post a sign at least 11 inches square stating this restriction at entrances to their buildings.

It's unclear how area churches will handle the new regulations. When the bill was first approved, state religious groups sent a letter to lawmakers requesting that concealed weapons be banned from churches; however, churches were not included in the final draft.

Pastor Cathy L. Hamblin of the New Richmond United Methodist Church said her church is waiting for a decision from the general church.

"The Methodist church as a whole got right on this," she said. "There are all kinds of ideas and we're being advised by our insurance company."

Hamblin said signs might need to be installed at the church banning the weapons; however, she's nervous that the signs might encourage people more than discourage people.

"We'd like to think no one would bring a weapon to church," she said.

Fr. Jim Brinkman, with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, said no policy has been formed yet. The local church will follow the decision made by the Diocese of Superior.

"Another issue for us is the grade school (St. Mary's School) and what the policy will be on the school grounds," he said.

It's not just churches that will be forced to create a policy. The new law does not exempt universities or colleges.

At WITC, the discussions have already started, said Bob Meyer, college president.

"We're looking at our options and looking at the legislation," he said. "Our concern is campus safety on all campuses and learning centers."

Meyer said the college has been in contact with its legal advisors; however, no decision has been made yet in terms of banning firearms.

Meyer said the college has also started discussing the possibility of offering training courses related to the new Concealed Cary Law.

"We're looking into the possibilities of that and what, if any, the implications might be for the college," he said. "We wouldn't want to incur any unnecessary legal implications for the college."