PROPOSED BILL IN WISCONSIN !!!!!
Cops could check traffic stops for concealed carry permits
MADISON, Wis. - Police could check whether the owner of a car they stop is carrying a concealed weapon under a compromise that sponsors of a bill to let Wisconsin residents carry hidden weapons have reached with law enforcement groups.
Sponsors say the amendment eliminates police lobbying organizations' major hang-ups with the Republican-authored bill. The bill's authors and representatives of several law enforcement groups planned a press conference Wednesday morning to announce more details.
"This was the biggest issue for law enforcement," said Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, one of the bill's main authors. "We've been working with law enforcement throughout the process to really bring them on board."
Under the measure, whenever an officer runs the registration of a vehicle he stops, a screen would pop up alerting him if the owner has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said Casey Perry, executive director of the Wisconsin Troopers Association.
"This way we would know before we approach the vehicle," Perry said. "We think it's a safety issue for the people that we stop, as well as the officers. It is major because it's a deal breaker for us."
The bill's creators have insisted the list of permit holders remain secret to ensure criminals don't prey on people who aren't carrying. Police groups say that would put officers in danger.
Perry said under the amendment, any officer caught running registrations excessively to find out who has permits - verified through state Department of Justice records that track the number of times an officer runs a registration - would be charged with a misdemeanor.
Gunderson said police associations added the language for the misdemeanor charge into the bill themselves.
"This is a compromise. I just feel it's important that if we're going to make this thing work, law enforcement has to be on board," Gunderson said.
The bill, the subject of a fierce debate at the Capitol, would allow Wisconsin residents who pass firearms training and obtain permits to carry concealed handguns, knives and billy clubs in most public places. The few exceptions include schools, taverns, and police stations.
The GOP, pushed by National Rifle Association lobbyists, passed similar legislation in 2003, saying people should be allowed to shoot criminals who attack them.
Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it, saying the measure would jeopardize police officers' lives and allow guns in malls and libraries. The Republican-controlled Legislature fell short of overriding Doyle in early 2004.
Identical versions of the current bill are moving through both the Republican-controlled Senate and Assembly. The Joint Finance Committee was scheduled to take them up Wednesday.
Doyle spokeswoman Melanie Fonder said the permit-alert system won't persuade the governor to sign the bill.
"It doesn't change the fact the governor doesn't think people should be carrying weapons around," Fonder said.
The bill is AB 763. A companion version in the Senate is SB 403.