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Council bans concealed weapons in city buildings
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The Boscobel Common Council unanimously banned the carrying of con-cealed weapons in all city buildings when it met Monday night. Wisconsin's controversial concealed weapons law took effect Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Discussion on the matter began during a Finance Committee meeting last Wednesday evening.
"The Department of Justice had nothing to do with the law," said police officer Dan Merwin. "It was completely written by the Legislature. So there are some concerns, especially with training."
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Department of Justice had required four hours of mandatory training before peo-ple could receive a con-cealed carry permit. However, on Monday a Republican-controlled legislative committee voted to elimi-nate the mandatory training, instead leaving it up to in-dividuals to determine the amount of training they feel is necessary.
As of Monday, concealed carry permit applications topped 20,000, with 1,669 approved and 339 rejected.
As currently written, the law bans concealed weapons in schools, police stations, courthouses and se-cure portions of airports, but not taverns or the state Capitol.
"Nothing changes as far as schools are concerned, but it wouldn't hurt to post them anyway, so people aren't confused," Merwin said. "You need to put signs on all entrances to protect yourself saying guns are prohibited."
City Administrator Arlie Harris appeared baffled by a law that prohibits guns in the State Senate chambers when they are in session but not the Assembly.
"You can carry (a gun) in the State Assembly, but you can't go to the Senate while it's in session," Harris said. "Do we have anyone in here who thinks packing a .44 in a city building is a good idea? If we do then we can have a discussion. I person-ally think we should put a sign on every building we've got."
The Finance Committee recommended that the Council post all city buildings prohibiting concealed weapons.
"To make it legal there has to be a sign at every single entrance, every door," Harris said.
"That's ridiculous; we've lost our minds," said Ald. Pete Huibregtse.
Merwin didn't think the new law would be as problematic as many have pre-dicted.
"I think 99 percent will have no problem with it, but it's that 1 percent you have to worry about," he said.
"Other states have seen this before, but to us it's so new," added Mayor Steve Wetter.
Wisconsin now joins 48 other states allowing some form of concealed carry. The only state still prohibiting them is Illinois.
"Businesses have a decision to make," said Harris. "Do they post for safety, or do they not post as not to oppose the NRA crowd?"
The Council unanimously adopted the Finance Committee's recommendation with little comment, although there was a question about liability. As the law is written, "A person that does not prohibit an individual from carrying a concealed weapon on property that the person owns or occupies is immune from any liability arising from its decision." There is no such immunity for persons that do prohibit concealed weapons on their property.
"I can not see how any-one could be found liable for not allowing weapons in and then having an acci-dent," said City Attorney John McNamee. "I find that an extremely remote possibility."
"I'm sure it will be tested in court at some time," responded Mayor Steve Wetter.
In other action, the Council:
•Approved a $50,000 UDAG loan over 15 years at 1.75 percent for Ryan Jones, Richland Center. Jones is purchasing the NAPA Auto Parts store in Boscobel, probably after the first of the year, and calling it Jones Auto Parts.
"It's a long ways out," Harris said of lending the money. "It will be 15-16 months before the money is available."
•Heard an informational presentation from Dan Ebert, senior vice president for governmental relations and external affairs at Wisconsin Public Power, Inc. (WPPI), Boscobel's wholesale power provider.
"The power of joint action is that we can compete with the big guys and compete efficiently," Ebert said of WPPI's power purchasing ability with 51 community members, including Boscobel and Muscoda. "We are positioned very, very well to support our members."
•Approved the following bartender's licenses: Kraig Shepherd, Kim's Silver Dollar; and Jacob Kauffman, Pat & Greg's Pour House.