The debate over concealed carry in Wisconsin has brought this issue to the forefront for me. Guns have been a part of life in Wisconsin, and I suspect most of the United States since the inception of this great state.
Hunting is a significant part of our economy and I doubt that there is a person in the state who isn't friends with someone who owns a gun.
There is currently legislation proposed in Wisconsin that would make it easier for someone to carry a concealed weapon than it would be for them to vote. To me this seems completely backwards.
I realize that the second amendment protects an individual's right to own a weapon, and I agree with that. However I feel that with gun ownership comes certain responsibilities. I also believe that there should be some reasonable limits in what type of guns people can own.
Let's face it, a gun at its core is built to kill something. By its very nature it is a danger to others. To limit this danger, people who want to own and carry a firearm should be required to take training on that weapon and how to safely us it. We require training before you can drive a car, why is training before you can carry a gun so different?
Here are my thoughts on how to make things equitable in Wisconsin, balancing the right to own and carry a weapon with the safety of the public.
First there need to be some reasonable limits to what types of weapons can be purchased. I believe it is reasonable to limit the ownership of fully automatic weapons, along with any handgun that has a magazine clip that holds more than 10 rounds.
Current semi automatic weapons allow you to fire as quickly as you can pull the trigger. For me that is 6 times per second. So I can fire six rounds per second manually pulling the trigger. However when I let off the trigger the gun stops. This should be adequate for anyone using their weapon for hunting or personal safety. There is no need for fully automatic, or selectable fire weapons.
For handguns, there simply is no need for a weapon with more than 10 rounds in a clip. Currently only our police and military are allowed guns of greater capacity. This is because their line of work almost ensures that they will be put in a situation where gunfire is needed. For the average citizen most often simply displaying the weapon is sufficient to prevent endangerment.
But for me the real need is around training. This is especially true for people who want to carry a weapon in their daily lives. Police and military go through hundreds of hours of training to safely use their weapons. This includes training on the weapon itself, the handling of the weapon and how to employ it. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, police have thousands of hours of real life experience with people. They are able to identify when someone poses an actual threat, detect when a situation escalates and violence is a real risk, and possibly most importantly they know how to de-escalate a situation before the use of a weapon is needed.
Prospective concealed carry applicants should be required to attend training on when and where a weapon can be used. For example it should never be used to protect material property. Ever. The weapon should only be used to protect the safety of humans, never someone's car or stereo as recent cases in Racine and Michigan have shown.
Additionally, to safely carry a weapon the owner should have to attend a minimum of 12 hours of training, including situational and live fire training, so that they can safely employ the weapon and make correct decisions when using it.
All of this should be completed prior to an applicant receiving a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Permit holders would be required to attend additional training every 2 years to keep their skills up so they can safely use the weapon.
Finally let's talk about where people can carry guns. Currently loaded guns are not allowed in vehicles. I think it's fair to accept that if someone is going to carry a gun, they are likely going to drive a vehicle. Police already approach any car as if the owner is carrying so let's allow people to carry their weapons in their cars. I don't believe that guns should be allowed in any tavern. Alcohol and guns simply should not mix, and I believe a little common sense should make it clear that we don't want people bringing guns into bars.
Gun owners would still be able to buy handguns, albeit only allowed to hold 10 rounds. They would still be able to buy rifles with 20-30 round capacities and go through all of those rounds in 3-4 seconds. They would still be allowed to carry their handgun for their safety.
This preserves the essence of the second amendment, while at the same time balancing the need to keep the public safe from under trained weapon owners.