Governor Scott Walker reluctantly approved the Emergency Concealed Carry Rules promulgated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). While the Governor has many of the same concerns that were expressed by NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox in his letter to Attorney General Van Hollen, he understandably did not want to further delay the ability of citizens of Wisconsin to carry concealed handguns for self-defense. His rejection of the Emergency Rules would have resulted in a significant delay on implementation of the new law that takes effect on November 1.
Governor Walker stated, “We’re hopeful that the Department of Justice improves the permanent rules substantially before sending them to the Administration and the legislature for approval.” The NRA will continue to work with the state legislature to ensure that this happens.
Unfortunately, DOJ has chosen to overstep its authority by imposing conditions on prospective concealed weapons license applicants that the legislature never adopted or intended. As part of the Executive Branch of state government, DOJ’s role is to faithfully implement the laws adopted by the legislature, not dramatically change them. If the Emergency Rules are allowed to become permanent, they will set a dangerous precedent that perverts our system of government and its principles associated with the separation of powers.
When the Legislature adopted Act 35, the concealed weapons law, two provisions were very clear. There was to be no minimum number of hours of firearms training required in order to satisfy the training mandate and any qualifying firearms training or safety class that a prospective applicant has taken at any time in the past would be accepted.
Through its Emergency Rules, the DOJ has effectively negated both of these provisions. First, the Rules require a minimum of four hours of training. Both houses of the legislature contemplated amendments that would have required a minimum number of hours of training and specific curriculum. These amendments were rejected.
Secondly, DOJ had deviated from the examples set by other states with virtually identical statutory language by micromanaging the information that must be provided on training certificates submitted by applicants. No training certificates anywhere in the country contain the information that the Wisconsin DOJ demands. This renders all existing certificates insufficient for submission with a citizen’s license application. DOJ could have easily established a system that would have allowed existing training certificates to be submitted while ensuring that the requirements of the concealed weapons law are met.
It is now time for you to act! The Emergency Rules will now be sent to the legislature for approval or rejection. Please contact your state representative and senator and ask that they reject the Emergency Rules and work to ensure that that the permanent rules ultimately reflect the clear letter of the law and the legislature’s intent. In the meantime, the Emergency Rules will remain in effect so as to ensure that there is no delay in the November 1 implementation of this essential new law. Contact information for your state representative and senator can be found by clicking here.