March 14--Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, began circulating a bill Wednesday that would ban people from carrying guns at the state Capitol.
The legislation is unlikely to become law in the Republican-controlled Legislature -- especially since some GOP lawmakers have said they occasionally carry guns at the Capitol.
Risser's bill would prohibit anyone, other than on-duty law enforcement officers and armed forces members who carry guns in the line of duty, from carrying a firearm at the Capitol. Violators would face misdemeanor charges.
"For 150 years or more, we had a Capitol free of guns," Risser said. "I don't see why we should change it now."
Wisconsin became the 49th state to allow people to carry concealed firearms in July 2011, when Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the measure into law. The law, which took effect later that year, was long-sought after legislation among Republicans, who still control the state Senate and Assembly. Some Republican lawmakers, like Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, have gotten concealed carry permits and say they occasionally carry weapons in the Assembly chamber during floor sessions.
The law allows people to carry guns at the state Capitol and other government-owned buildings. Guns remained banned from law enforcement offices, prisons, jails, courthouses, secure mental health facilities, and areas of airports beyond security checkpoints.
Risser previously tried to change Senate rules to ban guns in that house after the concealed carry law went into effect.
"The Capitol is open to many children," Risser said.
The bill is only circulating for co-sponsorship and has not yet been officially introduced, but some Republicans pounced on it as infringing on people's right to protect themselves.
"Apparently Sen. Risser thinks that law-abiding citizens that work in or visit the Capitol can't be trusted with protecting themselves," Rep. Michael Schraa, R-town of Algoma, said in a statement. "I guess Sen. Risser wants those in the Capitol to be completely defenseless."
Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for Walker, said, "We will evaluate the final version of the bill if it reaches the governor's desk."
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