After a series of deadly mass shootings, should Wisconsin rethink concealed-carry?

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, Wisconsin Business Alliance Board President Brad Werntz and conservative columnist David Blaska offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

Yes, but we’ll continue to live in a gun-packing fantasy world.

By Brad Werntz

Which shooting are we talking about now? Las Vegas hasn’t been at the top of the news cycle for weeks. In the U.S., there is a mass shooting every day. Since Vegas, there have been at least 60 more. Hopefully, none will have as many casualties, but at this point we don’t know.

Americans are over-achievers, and some take pride in brutality. Somewhere, someone is sketching out the details of the next worst mass shooting in modern history. What’s worse, as a country we’re not yet willing to do anything to stop them.

Institutions amplify the best and worst of the people who founded, manage, or otherwise shape them. In the organizational DNA of our country, on one hand we have the Second Amendment. On the other hand, we have Samuel Colt. It is said that God made man, and Colt made them equal. Although all are considered equal under the Constitution, many men view themselves as being less of a man if they aren’t packing a piece.

Guns have always been a part of my life. I worked at a big-game hunting camp for many years. What’s more, I’ve lived through most reasons why someone might want to carry a concealed weapon: I’ve been held at gun and knifepoint, bears have entered my tent, I’ve had restraining orders against stalkers, we experienced a home-invasion — the list goes on. Not once has there been a time where I would have been better off with a hidden weapon. Instead, I punched a wild bear in the nose and beat the crap out of the home invader.

So I just have to call it as I see it: Legislators who support concealed carry are cowards who live in a dark fantasy world. Their cowardice is both personal and moral, and it contributes to the deaths of almost 100 innocent people a day.

Enough is enough, except when it’s not. Apparently, we’ve not had enough. The killing will continue until we decide to solve it, and more people with more guns is clearly not the answer.

Brad Werntz is a small business owner in Madison.



No, because the cops can’t be everywhere.

By David Blaska

Full disclosure: Your correspondent carries Wisconsin Concealed Carry License #32230. There are over 330,000 of us in this state alone. It’s been six years since concealing a firearm or knife on your person became legal and Wisconsin has yet to resemble the streets of Laredo.

In Milwaukee, one of the most homicidal cities in America, murders declined from 94 in 2010 to 91 in 2012 — the first full year CC was legal. For the increase since then, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn cites the Ferguson Effect — police backing down in the face of criticism — “emboldening the same group of people that already are shooting each other.”

Not that the murderous of heart were awaiting the governor’s signature. “Any fluctuations in crime, increase or otherwise, involve individuals utilizing guns who don’t have the lawful ability to do so,” agrees James Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.

Bad guys just aren’t going to take a safety-training course, pay $40, and submit to a criminal background check. “Most of the shooting victims in our cities are, or involve, young men who have had prior contact with the criminal justice system,” finds Andrew Papachristos of Yale University.

The criminal knows if he is armed; what he does not know is whether his intended victim is, as well. I wish someone had the answer for stopping that mass murderer in Las Vegas. Steven Paddock had no criminal record, no radical politics, no foreign allegiance, and no history of mental illness.

Automatic weapons are already effectively banned. Yes, ban bump stocks. Limit high-capacity magazines? Fine, but it takes only seconds to swap out one clip for another. Limit the number of guns? Paddock had 23 firearms on him but only one trigger finger.

Sadly, the only thing that stopped this bad man was good men with guns. Might an armed custodian have stopped Sandy Hook? “The hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who hold a concealed carry license make our state a safer place to live, work, and raise a family,” says Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. He knows police can’t be everywhere.

David Blaska is a Madison columnist and blogger. Find his blog at

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