By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin lawmakers voted Thursday to extend temporary guidelines for the issuing of concealed weapons permits until mid-December.
The state Justice Department quickly enacted emergency regulations last year to ensure it had a framework for issuing and revoking permits before the law went into effect in November.
Those provisions were set to expire in August, but the Legislature’s rules committee voted to extend them through Oct. 16 because the agency needed more time to draft permanent rules. Those regulations are done but still need approval from standing committees in both the Assembly and Senate before the rules panel can put them in place.
Most lawmakers are busy campaigning ahead of the November elections, making it all but certain they won’t get the permanent package approved by the Oct. 16 deadline. Conscious of the timing, the Justice Department asked the rules committee to extend the temporary regulations through Dec. 15. The panel voted 9-0 to grant the request during a 10-minute meeting.
It’s unclear whether lawmakers will get the permanent rules approved before the new deadline. Democrats who control the Senate have referred the permanent rules to that chamber’s judiciary committee but Chairman Fred Risser, D-Madison, has yet to schedule a vote. Republicans who control the Assembly, meanwhile, have yet to assign the rules to any committee.
The rules committee can extend emergency regulations only twice. Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck if lawmakers don’t move on the permanent rules by December the agency would likely write a new emergency rule that would be identical to the existing temporary package, ensuring people could still get permits.
Wisconsin’s concealed carry law allows any state resident at least 21 years old who can legally possess a gun and show proof of training to obtain a permit from Justice. The law left the details to the agency.
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen caused a minor dust-up within the party when his first version of the emergency regulations included requirements that applicants receive at least four hours of training and supply completion certificates that include instructors’ signatures, contact information and locations. The GOP decried the provisions, saying the law doesn’t require a minimum amount of training or an instructor’s signature to verify training completion.
The rules committee ultimately suspended those portions of the regulations. The permanent rules call for instruction on the use of deadly force, how to avoid violent confrontations and how to safely use, transport and store guns. So far, Republican leaders haven’t expressed concerns about those provisions.