Wisconsin Allows Concealed Guns in Capitol
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
The new rules for the Capitol coincide with a broader, statewide relaxation of gun control policies that goes into effect on Tuesday (November 1). Under the changes, Wisconsin will become the 49th state to allow residents to carry concealed firearms into most public buildings. Only Illinois does not .
While the new statewide law has attracted considerable attention, the rules governing the Capitol building itself are drawing extra scrutiny because relatively few other states — only nine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — allow firearms into their capitols. In addition, the Wisconsin Capitol was home to some of the nation's most volatile political arguments earlier this year as Republicans pushed through collective bargaining changes that drew the ire of tens of thousands of public workers. Many protesters camped out at the Capitol for weeks.
Critics believe the combination of guns and political frustration is a dangerous one. But the Republican lawmakers who signed off on the new rules say they are simply granting Wisconsin residents the Second Amendment rights due to them. "Regular citizens who abide by the law should be allowed to protect themselves," Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald tells The Associated Press .
While concealed guns will be allowed in the Capitol's hallways and committee rooms, they will not be allowed everywhere in the building, according to AP. Individual lawmakers can decide whether to allow concealed guns in their offices, and Republicans who set the rules for the state Senate decided not to allow residents to take firearms into the public viewing galleries that overlook the chamber. (Visitors to the galleries in the Assembly, the other chamber, can take their guns with them.)
As for the floors of both chambers, only those who have access to those areas — lawmakers, staffers and reporters — will have the option of carrying a concealed gun. The general public cannot access the Senate and Assembly floors.