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Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013

Issue of the Week: Will Gun Rights Trump Property Rights?

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Despite major successes, gun-rights advocates are insisting on chipping away at the few restrictions on gun ownership and use the state does have. We aren’t sure whether it’s to prove some philosophical point or to keep donations flowing so that lobbyists can continue earning a living and having an influence in the state Capitol. Nevertheless, gun advocates have come up with another way to further weaken Wisconsin’s gun control laws.

On Thursday, an Assembly committee will hear a bill authored by state Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) and co-authored by state Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) that would allow off-duty and retired cops to carry concealed weapons on facilities that post “no guns allowed” signs. We think that’s a terrible idea. After all, if a property owner does not want guns on his or her premises, then that request should be respected.

Shockingly, some members of the gun rights movement also oppose the bill. According to an email alert sent by Nik Clark, head of Wisconsin Carry, Kleefisch had promised him that he would strip out the private property language in exchange for the group’s support. Kleefisch didn’t. Also, according to Clark, Kleefisch had promised to include language that would allow all concealed carry permit holders to carry guns on school grounds, also to gain the group’s support. Kleefisch didn’t do that, either.

There’s no pressing need for this bill. The gun rights of a small group of people should not trump private property rights of the rest of us. Nor should more guns be allowed on school properties. Kleefisch—and, disappointingly, Taylor too—is obviously seeking endorsements and donations from gun rights advocates. Unfortunately, they’re running roughshod over the property rights and safety of the larger public.