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Cryo Chamber

veto of concealed carry bill upheld

Wisconsin residents won’t be packing heat anytime soon.

The state Assembly on Tuesday failed by two votes to override Gov. Jim Doyle’s veto of a bill that would have ended the state’s 133-year-old ban on concealed weapons.

One of the deciding votes was cast by Rep. Terry Van Akkeren, D-Sheboygan.

The vote Tuesday was 64-34, and supporters of the bill needed 66 votes, or a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, to override the veto.
"As this, with every bill, the devil is always in the details," Van Akkeren said in a phone interview following the vote.
Gun supporters and the measure’s Republican sponsors said concealed carry would have helped people ward off criminals.
Augie Margenau, secretary of the Sheboygan Rifle & Pistol Club, said crime has gone down in states where it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon.
"The state of Wisconsin now is advertising to any criminal in the United States, ‘Come on to Wisconsin, our citizens are unarmed,’" said Margenau, 66, who also is a state Department of Natural Resources hunting safety instructor.
Van Akkeren was one of six Democrats who voted across party lines early in December to approve the bill, which would have allowed Wisconsin residents who pass firearms training to get permits to carry concealed handguns, knives, billy clubs and electric shock weapons in most public places except schools, taverns and police stations.
Rep. John Steinbrink, D-Pleasant Prairie, also changed his earlier stance and voted to sustain the veto.
Rep. Dan LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, who supported the bill, said Van Akkeren and Steinbrink changed their votes in order to save the governor from embarrassment.
"We had people that when we voted on it the first time, because of the amendment we put in, gave us our word that they would support it all the way through to the end," LeMahieu said. "And they flipped their vote this time."
State Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake, who voted in favor of the override, said Van Akkeren’s decision to change his position on the bill was political and said he "didn’t keep his word."
"This is the very same bill they both voted in favor of the first time around," Kestell said. "It’s hard to have two different positions on the same bill, so there’s something else that changed and that is the governor wanted his veto upheld."
Van Akkeren said he never promised his vote on concealed carry to either side.
"I all along have said I have had some concerns and hadn’t made a decision," he said. "I have never given my word to either the governor or the authors of the bill on how I was going to vote on this override."
Van Akkeren said of 360 phone calls and e-mails he received from constituents, 223 were opposed to concealed carry. While Van Akkeren said the amended bill was an improvement on the original draft, he believes concealed carry would hurt law enforcement as well as business owners, who would have to post notices and verbally warn anyone who entered that they could not bring a concealed weapon on the premises.
Sheboygan County Sheriff Michael Helmke said the legislation still has some "cleaning up" to do.
"In the current bill, it had that people with permits would somehow have that information attached to their vehicle registration and law enforcement could only access that data if they had probable cause to believe that a traffic violation occurred," Helmke said.
Sheboygan Police Chief David Kirk also said there were flaws in the bill.
"I think that the people who mainly support concealed carry are good people and they only want to protect themselves and others," Kirk said. "But I see some concerns in that. And I see citizens and others who are injured because of weapons and I don’t like more weapons brought into a volatile situation or into public meetings and things of that nature where there’s more people."
Van Akkeren said he does support the concept of allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons, but only under certain conditions.
Kestell said by not having a concealed carry law in place, the state is constitutionally out of compliance.
"Eventually, this is going to be law in Wisconsin," Kestell said.

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