Concealed carry: one year report card
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SUGAR CREEK TOWNSHIP Although some local law enforcement officials say the concealed-carry law isn’t perfect, there has been little negative fallout in Walworth County during its first year.
It’s been a little more than a year since Wisconsin adopted the concealed carry law, and despite high profile tragedies in Milwaukee, law enforcement officials in Walworth County report that the Wild West has not returned like detractors claimed it would.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has approved more than 138,500 concealed carry permits since Act 35 went into effect Nov. 1, 2011, and DOJ statistics show that handgun sales are up 90 percent since 2010.
A shooting in October at the Azana Spa & Salon in Brookfield is the most recent case to fuel the controversy over concealed carry. The shop posted a sign prohibiting concealed carry, but police say Radcliffe Haughton entered the salon and killed his wife and two other women and shot four others before killing himself.
Bob Burton of Sugar Creek Township, whose friend’s granddaughter was one of the three women killed in the Brookfield spa shooting, is a longtime firearms safety and personal protection instructor through NRA courses. He said each individual who signs the four-page permit application is responsible for his or her training and whether they become proficient in handling any weapon safely.
“Gun control controls those who legally use guns, not those who use them illegally,” Burton said. “A bad guy doesn’t care if you’ve got a little sticker on your door. A lot of people are scared of and don’t like guns, and that’s the reality. But the biggest thing is the level of confidence a person gains by learning how to properly and safely use a gun.”
Although some local law enforcement officials say the concealed-carry law isn’t perfect, there has been little negative fallout in Walworth County during its first year.
“We have not had any issues,” Village of East Troy Police Chief Alan Boyes said. “Nothing would even appear any different with how we operate, whether the law had gone into effect or not. The most important part of this is the concealed carry permit cards. The way I see it is that whether a person commits a crime with or without the permit, we don’t handle the situations any differently.”
Michael Palenske, owner of the Dam Road Gun Shop in Delavan Township said sales remain good. “A lot of people were waiting for the system to catch up, so they’re still getting (concealed carry) permits and buying guns,” Palenske said. “But the Wild West hasn’t shot itself up, and I haven’t heard about any trouble. If anything, I believe the law has made people even more responsible because they have more to lose should something happen.”
Gun control issues will remain in the spotlight, because the state legislature may be busy this next session dealing with background check loopholes and firearms surrender issues after the Azana Spa tragedy.
And Act 35 isn’t perfect by any stretch, area law enforcement personnel say, especially when it comes to training provisions that remain in limbo.
For the complete story, read the Dec. 9 print or e-edition of Walworth County.