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Senate sends concealed-carry bill to committee (UPDATE)

By TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate chose Tuesday to allow a bill that would erase minimum concealed carry training requirements to languish, giving the state Justice Department a chance to revise the conditions on its own.

Wisconsin became the 49th state to allow concealed weapons in November. Under the new law, any state resident who is at least 21 years old, passes a background check and provides proof that he or she has gone through firearms training can obtain a permit to carry.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen created a stir, however, when his state Justice Department administrators issued an emergency rule that required applicants to complete at least four hours of training. The National Rifle Association called the rules draconian, arguing that the actual concealed carry law contains no such hard-and-fast requirements.

Van Hollen argued that the state needs a minimum standard to verify applicants had completed any training. But Republicans on the Legislature’s rules committee sided with the NRA and suspended the four-hour requirement days after the law took effect.

Under state law, the full Legislature must approve a bill that would make the suspension permanent. The rules committee drafted the legislation and sent it to the Senate’s scheduling committee. That panel took no action on the bill within 30 days, which automatically placed it on the Senate’s calendar Tuesday.

Rather than calling for a vote, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, asked Senate President Mike Ellis to kick it back to the scheduling committee. No one objected and Ellis, R-Neenah, complied.

Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, the rules committee’s co-chairwoman, said the bill isn’t needed because Republicans and DOJ administrators are working on permanent concealed carry regulations. She expects the final version will comply with the committee’s concerns.

“This is all because we’re in the process of negotiating the permanent rule,” she said.

DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck said in an email the agency is “mindful” of the rules committee’s objections but the need to show meaningful proof of training hasn’t changed. She declined to elaborate.

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