Today, Monday, September 24, the 31st Circuit Court of Milwaukee County ruled that the Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) statute was unconstitutional as applied to a particular defendant -- in this case, a pizza delivery driver who carried a gun for self-defense on the job, after being robbed repeatedly in a high crime area.
Andres Vegas is a pizza delivery driver and has been robbed and mugged while attempting to deliver a pizza on four different occasions. The first time was in March of 2005. The second time was July 14, 2006, when Vegas was attacked and threatened at gunpoint. Vegas, armed with a firearm, exercised his constitutional right of self-defense and shot one of the assailants. Vegas was not charged with the crime of carrying concealed and was ruled as acting in self defense. Not only was his firearm confiscated at the time of arrest, but it was never returned. He was subsequently told by the prosecuting District Attorney that if he were to use a firearm in self-defense again he would be prosecuted.
On September 13, 2006, an unarmed Vegas -- acting under the orders of the District Attorney to avoid prosecution -- was robbed, beaten, and sprayed with pepper spray by three assailants. Consequently Vegas went out and purchased another firearm. On January 4, 2007, Vegas was again attempting to deliver a pizza when two men approached him and pointed a gun in his face. This time, he responded by again exercising his right to self-defense and shot his assailant in the hip. Vegas then secured his assailant' s firearm along with his, placed them both on the roof of his car, dialed 911, and waited for the police to arrive. The DA determined that he acted in self defense, but he was subsequently charged with CCW for the moments before he was assaulted and defended.
Even though this charge was brought forward by the DA’s office, the court has ruled in favor of Vegas, saying:
“Defendant Vegas has demonstrated the requisite extraordinary circumstances that warrant his concealed weapon…Vegas legally purchased his firearm for the purpose of security and protection. There is a strong inference that Vegas’ concealed firearm has saved his life during these violent assaults…Vegas has a substantial interest in being secure and protecting himself by carrying a concealed weapon.”
“This Court is not convinced that there are any reasonable alternatives that would have secured Vegas’ safety. Vegas' concealed weapon has most likely saved his life on several occasions; this the State cannot ignore. The State has conceded that Vegas did not have an unlawful purpose for concealing a weapon. Given the totality of the circumstances, this Court is satisfied that the Defendant has affirmatively answered the two-prong analysis as outlined in Hamdan and Fisher and thus grants the Defendant’s motion to dismiss.”
This is a giant step forward in the battle for Right-to-Carry in Wisconsin. This court ruling will likely lead to future citizens exercising their right to self-defense by carrying concealed firearms. Unfortunately this will likely lead to subsequent prosecutions, but this circuit court ruling will become a perfect example of law-abiding citizens' need for concealed firearms for protection against crime, especially in high crime areas such as Milwaukee.