Concealed carry: Voters say no, legislators pay no attention | WisCommunity

Concealed carry: Voters say no, legislators pay no attention

There is something about state legislators and guns that flies in the face of common sense.

It's perhaps the best example of an issue where the voters overwhelmingly feel one way and their lawmakers vote just the opposite.  Blame the National Rifle Association for that; its decades of lobbying and intimidation have paid off.

Today, the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE for short) released the results of yet another statewide poll in which Wisconsin residents overwhelmngly oppose allowing people to carry concealed guns in public places.  It is nearly a two to one margin (60% to 32%).

By an almost 3 to 1 margin (60% to 21%), people believe loaded, concealed guns in public would make them feel less safe.

Yet the legislature is poised to pass a bill that does just that, without requiring a background check or training.

More than twice as many voters (48%) indicate they would be less likely to support a candidate who favors this law than say they would be more inclined to support that office seeker (23%).

Respondents were almost unanimous in supporting more, not fewer, requirements for public gun carriers, including criminal background checks (93%) and mandatory, "hands on" training (90%).

There is one subgroup that is an exception.  Republican men support concealed carry by a 2 to 1 margin. But GOP women, Democrats and independents of both genders strongly disagree.  Of course, it is mostly Republican men in the legislature who are about to pass some sort of concealed carry law.

Proponents of legislation to legalize the carrying of concealed weapons have been making a lot of claims that are simply not true, WAVE Executive Director Jeri Bonavia says. 

"They say that more people carrying concealed guns will make us safer.  Yet, Wisconsin's violent crime rate and firearm death rate are much lower than most of the states that have lenient carrying laws.  It makes no sense to adopt the policies of states that have more crime, more violence and more gun deaths," she said at a news conference in the Capitol this morning.

"Concealed weapons being carried at banks, grocery stores, Summerfest, and Lambeau Field won’t make us safer.  And they sure won’t make us safer at our workplaces.

"A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that employees at workplaces that allow guns are 5 to 7 times more likely to be murdered than those who work where weapons are prohibited."

Proponents also claim that the only people who carry guns in public are “responsible, law abiding” individuals.  Yet, according to the Violence Policy Center, concealed weapon permit holders have murdered at least 300 citizens, including 11 law enforcement officers, since May 2007.  (The authors note that, since most states keep the identity of CCW permit holders secret, they relied on newspaper accounts, which means the actual number of events involving CCW holders are likely much higher.)

The opposition to concealed carry is strong in every region of the state, the poll shows.  For example, in Green Bay, the Fox Valley and the surrounding areas, 65% of voters are opposed and 28% are in favor.

The poll also found that by nearly a three-to-one margin, Wisconsin voters say they will feel less safe, not safer, if people are carrying loaded guns in public places. 

Again, this is true in all areas of the state.  Stunningly large majorities of Democrats and Independents, as well as Republican women, will feel less safe.  Only Republican men will feel safer.

"According to the poll, by making it easier for more people to carry guns in public and eliminating restrictions, the legislature is doing the exact opposite of what Wisconsinites want," Bonavia said.

Finally, we wanted to know if there were any differences in how people felt about CCW based on whether they lived in a suburb, medium-sized city, small town or rural area, so we commissioned three additional polls of 350 people each in senate districts 8, 14, and 18.  In all cases, the results were nearly identical to the results of the statewide poll. 

Those three districts are represented by Republicans who are facing recalls -- Alberta Darling, Luther Olsen and Randy Hopper. 


May 24, 2011 - 12:32pm