Gun group sues over school zone restriction
By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Jan. 8, 2010 4:24 p.m.
A gun rights group has sued the state and two cities over enforcement of Wisconsin's law against carrying firearms within 1,000 feet of a school.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Milwaukee Friday, claims that "Wisconsin's Gun Free School Zone Act covers such a broad area that it practically forecloses a meaningful right to keep and bear arms in large parts of the state." It calls the law "an onerous restriction that has the potential to ensnare thousands of law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights and expose them to felony charges"
The lawsuit was filed by Wisconsin Carry, Inc., David Bernson of Milwaukee and Frank Hannan Rock of Racine. It names as defendants Gov. Jim Doyle, the city of Milwaukee and one of its police officers, and the city of Racine and two Racine officers. It seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional and damages for the two men over their arrests and confiscation of guns.
According to the suit:
Bernson was arrested near his home in May 2008, and though he was subsequently released without charge, the city has refused to return a gun that was seized from Bernson's home. Bernson's request for the gun was denied in part because he had allegedly possessed it at a gas station within 1,000 feet of a school.
In September, Rock was arrested on his front porch in Racine, and had his gun confiscated, when he refused to identify himself to officers. Ultimately, he was not prosecuted for obstruction but was told that because he lives within 1,000 feet of a school, officers would have probable cause in the future to arrest him if he has a gun and refuses to identify himself.
Milwaukee city attorney's office officials said they had not seen the lawsuit Friday. Officials with the governor's office and city of Racine could not immediately be reached for comment.