MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill that would allow concealed weapons in most public places.
All 19 Senate Republicans voted for the bill Tuesday, along with six Democrats. Eight other Democrats opposed it.
The bill would make Wisconsin the 49th state to legalize carrying hidden guns. Those who want to carry the weapons would have to obtain a permit.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker backs the bill. Before it would get to him, it must also pass the Assembly. That could happen later in the week.
The bill allows concealed weapons except in places such as police stations, courthouses and Milwaukee's Summerfest music festival.
Republicans say the bill will allow people to defend themselves. Democrats say the fact that exemptions were needed proves how inherently unsafe the measure is.
News Release from Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Eau Claire County):
A bill to allow the carry of a concealed firearm for self-defense passed the Wisconsin State Senate Tuesday. Senator Terry Moulton (Lake Hallie) voted for its passage and expressed his support of the bill which, if signed by Governor Walker, would make Wisconsin the 49th state to allow citizens the opportunity to carry for self-defense.
“As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, I know personally that the responsible use of a weapon does not pose a threat to society,” said Moulton. “But the rhetoric and unrealistic assumptions surrounding concealed carry have clouded what this bill is about and what the aftermath of this bill will bring.”
The bill that passed the State Senate creates a process to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon which includes a training requirement. Concealed carry is forbidden in any of the following places: any portion of a building that is a police station; sheriff’s office; prison; jail; secured correctional facility; mental health institution, beyond a security checkpoint in an airport; any portion of a municipal courtroom if court is in session; a county, state or federal courthouse; or in or on the grounds of a school, with exceptions.
Other public buildings, universities and private businesses are allowed to post a sign prohibiting the concealed carry of a weapon.
Those who are less than 21 years of age, prohibited under federal or state law from possessing a firearm, or have not provided proof of training will not be issued a license to carry concealed.
“Law-abiding citizens should be able to protect and defend themselves and their family from harm,” said Moulton. “The bill that passed the Senate today, which spent years in the making, will allow the concealed carry of a weapon to achieve those means and I was proud to support it.”