For the second consecutive year, a single lawmaker denied the law-abiding citizens of Wisconsin the same essential right to self-defense enjoyed by the citizens of 37 other states, including the neighboring states of Minnesota and Michigan. On Tuesday, February 3, the State Assembly, by a vote of 65-34, failed to override Governor Jim Doyle`s (D) veto of the 2003 Personal Protection Act (PPA). The vote was one short of the 66 required for an override. In January, the State Senate overrode the veto by a vote of 23-10. The shall issue Right-to-Carry bill would have allowed trained, law-abiding citizens who paid a fee, passed a background check, and obtained a permit from the county sheriff, to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense.
Last year it was then-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala (D-16) who ignored Senate Rules by single-handedly ending the legislative session two days early in order to block the PPA from receiving a final vote on the Senate floor. This desperate action was not surprising in light of the Senator`s belief that handgun possession should be a privilege reserved solely for government officials.
This year it was Representative Gary Sherman (D-74) who prevented the PPA from becoming law by changing his position at the last minute and voting to sustain the Governor`s veto. As one of only two Democrats who cosponsored the legislation, Sherman chose partisan politics over the right of citizens to defend themselves from violent criminals. He decided to back his misguided, anti-gun Governor rather than side with the good citizens of Wisconsin.
Here is what Representative Sherman said in a commentary in the November 6, 2003, edition of the Ashland Daily Press: "I have made no secret of my support for this proposal throughout the past six years. In my very first assembly campaign in 1998, I made my support for concealed carry clear and I have not changed my position.... People who are unconcerned about obeying the law are not deterred from carrying concealed weapons now.... As things stand now, only those of us who are determined to obey the law cannot carry concealed weapons. These permitting laws exist in 45 of our 50 states. Based upon this extensive experience, there is no evidence that issuing permits to properly trained people, who have been carefully checked to see if there is some reason why they should not be trusted with a firearm, will increase the risk of gun violence for the rest of us. In the absence of such evidence, there is no compelling reason why such people should be denied the privilege of doing so. In America, it is not necessary to prove the opposite, that there is a compelling reason for doing so. The mere absence of a compelling reason for limiting people`s liberty is enough."
Evidently, Representative Sherman`s blind devotion to his Governor became his "compelling reason for limiting people`s liberty." It is these lawful citizens who will suffer from the safer working environment afforded the violent criminals in Wisconsin.
One Wisconsin rape survivor who has been a powerful, articulate proponent of the PPA from the beginning asked after Sherman`s vote, "How can he do it? How can he change his vote? What`s going to happen if I`m attacked again and I can`t do anything about it?"
The fight, however, is far from over. NRA and other proponents of the Personal Protection Act will not stop until violent criminals are forced to think twice before deciding to attack their victims. In many respects, this year`s fight was a success. According to polls conducted by PPA opponents, the majority of Wisconsinites have been educated to the point of supporting Right-to-Carry. A full two-thirds of the 132 members of the State Legislature voted for the override of the Governor`s veto. The momentum behind the PPA will continue to build until Wisconsin joins the vast majority of states by enacting Right-to-Carry.
You need to be a part of this continuing effort by actively supporting those legislators who supported your rights by voting for the PPA. Become a volunteer on their campaigns and let them know the reason for your involvement. Conversely, you must spread the word regarding those elected officials who do not trust law-abiding citizens with the right to self-defense or, perhaps worse, those who betray their long-held belief in defending "people`s liberty."
Please visit www.NRAILA.com to find contact information for your NRA-ILA Election Volunteer Coordinator (EVC) so you may contact him to begin working on the campaign of those who support Right-to-Carry. You can find contact information for your legislators by using the "Write Your Representatives" feature, also at www.NRAILA.org.