PRESS EDITORIAL: Would-be governors stand strong against the evil of gun permits

How would you make Wisconsin a better place for its people?

That is a reasonable question to ask candidates seeking to become the state’s most powerful leader, its governor, and their campaign promises should be taken as answers.

Three candidates vying for the Republican nomination for governor gave identical answers last week. Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and Tim Ramthun each said that as governor they would act to eliminate the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed gun.

Ending the permit requirement would also eliminate the basic gun safety training that is now a precondition for holding a permit.

It would mean that anyone 21 or older who is not a felon, no matter how ignorant of safe handgun cleaning, storing and handling practices he or she might be, or how lacking in understanding of the fearsome power of a pistol designed expressly to kill humans, would be able to legally buy, load and carry a weapon whose misuse would have a high potential for deadly consequences.

There is no way to parse the would-be governors’ notions of permitless concealed carry and come up with a positive outcome. The only likely result is more gun violence, both intentional and, especially, accidental. It would not make Wisconsin a better place.

That is so obvious that even the candidates may understand it, but they also understand that supporting unrestricted concealed carry is viewed in conservative political circles as a mandatory sop to a base determined to make the Second Amendment an unlimited, unconditional guarantee of gun freedom.

There seems to be a limit, however, on how far down that rabbit hole gun rights supporters are willing to go. A 2021 Marquette Law School poll found overwhelming opposition among Wisconsinites: 76% percent of them opposed eliminating concealed carry permits.

And Wisconsin lawmakers got a lesson from responsible gun owners last year when, as part of a package of changes meant to weaken hunting regulations, a provision to eliminate required training for children learning to hunt was withdrawn after it drew furious opposition from state hunters and organizations that represent them.

Wisconsin’s training requirements for a concealed-carry permit are hardly burdensome. For an applicant who has no previous firearms training, completion of a certified course in gun safety or training is a requisite. For others, proof of firearms training as a member of the military, a police department or a private security company, or even a certificate of completion of a hunter safety course, suffices.

At the same time candidates for Wisconsin’s top elective office want to discard even those minimal qualifications, the number of unintentional gun deaths and injuries is increasing. First responders encounter them every day across the country: handgun owners shot accidentally (apart from the soaring toll of suicides by guns) in foolish handling of their own weapons, innocent bystanders shot when an incompetent armed civilian opens fire at a real or supposed lawbreaker in a public place, children killed when playing with loaded weapons left carelessly accessible by an adult in a home or vehicle.

Accompanying the movement to weaken concealed-carry regulations—several states already allow concealed handguns without permits—is a growing sense among armed civilians that guns are an everyday tool to be put to use in settling minor disputes. This is contrary to a fundamental element in every gun safety course and is strongly emphasized in military and police training—the respect that must be paid to weapons that have the power to end a life in heartbeat.

That lack of that respect is evident in what has been described as an explosion of shootings attributed to road rage. The state of Texas, where drivers have been allowed for years to carry firearms in their vehicles without a permit, is a good place to observe the phenomenon. According to police records, 33 people were shot to death in Texas road rage incidents in 2021.

Overall in the U.S., a survey conducted by the American AutomobileAssociation found that an average of 44 people per month were shot and killed or wounded in road rage shootings last year. Road-rage gunplay has most likely taken a life in Ozaukee County. After a county resident was discovered dead of a gunshot wound in his car on I-43 between Saukville and Port Washington in 2020, Sheriff’s Office investigators found evidence at the scene that the victim’s car and a second vehicle had pulled over to the shoulder after a fender-bender. They suspect the fatal shooting was the result of road rage. The murderer has not been identified or apprehended.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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