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Wisconsin and Missouri Fight for Right-to-Carry

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Despite the support of the majority of the legislature, rank and file police officers, and the people of Wisconsin, on November 18, Governor Jim Doyle (D) vetoed legislation that would allow law-abiding Wisconsin citizens the Right-to-Carry firearms for protection of themselves and their loved ones.

It is regrettable that Governor Doyle does not trust his law-abiding constituents with the right of self-defense. This is common sense legislation that requires mandatory training, a permit from the sheriff, and a criminal background check. Even polls by Right-to-Carry opponents reveal that a majority of Wisconsinites support this law.

According to FBI statistics, 12,000 Wisconsinites are victims of violent crime annually. Right-to-Carry would give many of those victims the opportunity to defend themselves against a criminal attack. Research by leading criminologists shows that firearms are used more than two million times a year for self-defense. In most cases a shot is never fired. And, Right-to-Carry laws are a proven crime deterrent. Violent crime rates have decreased in every state after enactment of Right-to-Carry.

Ironically, Governor Doyle enjoys executive self-protection at taxpayer expense. Yet he will not afford the average citizen the same opportunity. Unless the legislature acts, the people of Wisconsin will remain defenseless against criminal attacks.

Right-to-Carry passed the Wisconsin legislature by a vote of 24-8 in the Senate and 64-35 in the Assembly. Four states—New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri—have passed Right-to-Carry laws this year. Thirty-six states and more than half of all Americans have the right to carry a firearm for personal protection.

Wisconsin residents are asked to please contact your Senators and Representatives and respectfully urge them to stand steadfast on our rights, and their votes, by voting to override the Governor`s veto. You can find contact information for your Legislators by using the "Write your Representatives" feature at www.NRAILA.org.

As reported in the September 12 issue of the Grassroots Alert, on September 11, the Missouri Senate joined the House in voting to override Governor Bob Holden`s (D) veto of HB 349, making the "Show Me State" the nation`s 36th state to pass a fair, non-discretionary Right-to-Carry law.

This victory was short-lived, however, as St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer recently issued a permanent injunction striking down the new law on grounds that it violates a section of the Missouri Constitution dating back to 1875. The ruling made permanent Judge Ohmer`s temporary injunction against the law, which had been issued in October.

State Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) immediately appealed the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court, arguing that Judge Ohmer`s ruling was both "unprecedented" and "absurd."

The NRA is vigorously fighting to overturn the ruling. The Missouri Supreme Court has granted NRA`s motion to file an amicus brief in a challenge to the law. NRA attorney Steve Halbrook said the constitutional provision is not meant as a prohibition against concealed guns. "Ever since Missouri has been a state, the legislature has decided when and where to either allow or prohibit concealed weapons," he said.

The Missouri Supreme Court has set a January 22 date to hear the appeal. Rest assured that NRA-ILA will keep you apprised of future developments or decisions.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.